When I started my business, I tried (but not that hard) to think of a good name. When I didn’t come up with anything I loved (after not that long thinking about it), I decided to just go with my own. “Hey,” I thought, “it worked for Jonathan Adler and Diane von Furstenburg!” I am here to tell you this: I gave myself kind of bad advice. Now that I’m a couple of years into this venture, with the benefit of our old pal hindsight, I now know a lot more about when naming a business after yourself makes sense, and when it might make more sense not to.
I could seriously write a book with all the lessons I learned in 2014. It wouldn't necessarily be a GOOD book, or useful to anyone else yet, but 2014 was nothing if not filled with lessons. Some people might call those lessons "mistakes," but I don't look at it that way. I can't.
I should start this off by noting that the person who inspired this post didn't say her professor gave her crappy advice. I said that. Here's the actual question I got from "Shirley" (not her real name) via email a few weeks ago:
*DISCLAIMER: I am not an intellectual property lawyer (nor any other kind of lawyer) and this post should not be taken as legal advice or permission.* I get asked a lot about the issue of using famous quotes on products, and this post is my attempt at shedding some light on this (very complicated) topic. I know this isn't a fun thing to hear, but in most cases, the answer to the question "Can I legally use X quote on my products?" is going to be no, with a few exceptions (which I'll get to in a minute).
When I was a junior art director, I remember showing my creative director some print ads I’d designed. He pointed to the little abstract decorative element I’d created in the corner and said, “What is this and why is it here?” “Um… It’s just a thing. For visual balance? Because I like it?” He told me that wasn’t a good enough reason, and then we had a conversation about how every visual element in a print ad should always relate somehow to the content of the message.
When I started illustrating, I was doing most of it by hand, scanning it, and cleaning up and finishing it in Photoshop. If you've ever done this, you know that it can be kind of a pain in the ass. So, last year, I changed it up.
Okay, the title of this post might be a little harsh. I love Pinterest for recipes, wish lists, and looking at colors. But once I got serious about creating my own work, I've come to realize that there's such a thing as too much "inspiration." After spending a few months falling down the Pinterest rabbit hole while supposedly gathering inspiration for my own projects last winter, I realized that I needed to just stop. Why?
This week, I'm taking a detour from the stationery show talk to address a question I get a lot, which is "How do you come up with your ideas?" OK. The answer to this question has a lot of different pieces, but I want to start with something that might not sound obvious at first, but is super duper important:
Hi guys! Please excuse the slightly belated nature of this post; it's been the busiest couple of weeks yet around here. We've just released our first 5 temporary tattoos and tea towels, and I'm working on some licensing deadlines and holiday orders are coming in and and and. Bottom line: it's a lot. Anyway! I was really happy to hear that the first post in this series was so helpful to so many of you.
The thing I probably get asked the most is some variation on “so… how are you doing this?” The answer is long – waaay too long for one blog post – but I’m going to try and address it as well as I can over a series of posts. I also would like to say up front that part of the answer to this question is “I’m not entirely sure” and “I’m making it up as I go along,” which may either be disappointing or comforting to read.