Sunday, April 17, 2011

Inspiring Designer: Ellie Snow

I thought I'd try something new on this Monday. Normally I post my Interviews on a Friday so that you can have it all weekend... but I thought, what a better way to start the week then with an amazing designer talk. Besides, I know there are a lot of you a little drowsy on a Monday morning needing some inspiration- here's the girl for you!

Introducing designer, blogger & artist Ellie Snow. Her blog, Mint Design, has been featured in the London Times as top 50 design blogs in the WORLD! I met Ellie last year at a little Graphic Design conference and was really inspired by her... seriously, I probably wouldn't be the die-hard blogger I am without her encouraging talk. I liked her so much my photography company is a sponsor of her blog this month!

Here is our interview. Enjoy!

Tell us a little about how you started blogging.
After college I tried a bunch of random jobs — I worked briefly in a greenhouse, I filed papers for a pharmaceutical company, I worked as a photographer's assistant, I worked with autistic children, and I joined Americorps and worked with a nonprofit for a year. I was an art major in school, so after a while I realized that I missed doing creative, visual work on a daily basis. I had always wanted to be a graphic designer and I decided to pursue that. I was lucky to jump right into the field, and in the evenings I would spend a lot of time looking at design blogs, trying to learn from the wonderful designers whose work I followed. I decided to start a design blog myself, mostly to save all the beautiful things I was finding!

Can you tell us about the process from being a little blogger to your success now being listed as top 50 design blogs in the world? What was that progression like? How did you do it!
Being listed in the London Times was of course a huge honor, and surprise! I don't think there's one recipe for "blog success," and I think the most important thing is to have passion for what you're blogging about — it shows!

You have a lot of creative businesses, tell us about them. Do you have a favorite?

I really focus on my wedding invitation work (Hello Tenfold) these days. I design custom wedding stationery, from save the dates to invitations to place cards, and I couldn't be happier. I find it's very creative and brides are great to work with (despite the stereotype!). Couples are so excited to be planning their wedding and they see paper goods as a fun part of the process. I do a little bit of freelance design work as well (blog design, website design, logos, etc.). Last year I started selling some vintage finds on Etsy, but closed the shop once it started to get cold outside. Flea markets are significantly less fun in the cold! These days I see Mint less and less as a separate business, and more of a way to get feedback on my work and to stay connected with other designers and bloggers. I don't want it to feel like work, in other words. Mint has been invaluable in terms of meeting people and becoming self employed. There's a big network of similarly-minded people out there.

from Hello Tenfold

What are your dreams for your life?
I'd love to stay self employed, always! So, I hope I can continue to find ways to make money doing what I love, and to keep things fresh and exciting. I would like to do a lot of traveling and have a family, too.

Does your husband ever have to say, “ahem, can you put the computer down?”

Well, when I was working full time and running Mint and Hello Tenfold on the side, I was definitely on the computer 24/7! These days I work about 8-10 hours a day, and by the time my husband gets home from his job I'm only too happy to put away the laptop! Working from home and for myself, I really value my free time and weekends. At first I had to force myself to draw boundaries, but I think I've gotten better!

Have you faced any blogger challenges?

Ah, yes. Many, it feels like! When you put so many hours into a project, you want to feel it's appreciated, and it doesn't always feel that way! I have had to redefine what blogging "success" means to me, and be sure I'm blogging for the right reasons. It's also easy to get caught up in "everyone is better than me" mode, because you're working alongside some of the most talented and hard-working designers and editors out there! It can be somewhat discouraging, if you let it. Oh, and there are never enough hours in the day!

Do you have time to follow other blogs? If so, who are your personal favorites and why?

Yes, I'm subscribed to hundreds of other blogs! I don't read them all daily, of course. I especially love Design Work Life; I think Courtney does a fantastic job of showcasing beautiful and inspiring work. I also love SeeSaw to pieces, and I admire Joy of Oh Joy! and Grace of Design Sponge for their work ethics and business smarts!

What’s next for you?

In the short term, I'm focusing on the business side of Hello Tenfold, redefining the projects I want to take on, the way I present my work (I'm getting professional photos done, and a new website), and making sure that the clients I choose to work with are the right fit for me, both with Hello Tenfold and my freelance design work. In the long term, who knows! I love the idea of a brick and mortar store front or studio, but that's not any time soon.

What do you do in your “real life” for fun?

I read every day, I love a good novel! My husband and I just bought our first house so we're having a good time fixing things up and making it home. We like to check out local restaurants and walk to the farmer's market when the weather is good. I love antique shops, traveling, and being with family and friends.

What advice would you give our readers about living an inspired creative life? (and making a living out of it)

Balance is really important... balancing challenging, creative work with more fun/easy projects is a necessity for me. To make a living from it, you need to be really honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. It's not for everyone, and there are a lot of business-related things involved that require more organization and people skills, which can be just as important as the creative aspects! You need to have a good combination of the dreamer personality, with courage to "go for it," plus a very realistic side so that you can live comfortably and take calculated risks. Having a business partner is not for everyone (myself included, probably), but there are certainly days when I miss having someone to bounce ideas off of! I think it takes a lot of trial and error, willingness to make mistakes and learn from them, and lots of self motivation!

Find Ellie here:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
{blog} Mint Design Blog
{shop} Hello TenFold
{folio} Ellie Snow


Jess Gatlyn said...

i really enjoyed this post anna. thanks!

Bre said...

I loved reading through this! What a great interview for a monday. Great advice throughout definitely and helpful for those discouraging days!


tams said...

Great interview. I've always loved Ellie's blog and her support of independent artists.

Home Lighting said...

Very inspirational interview :) I hope you will feature more posts like this one. Thanks for sharing wonderful stories to us.

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