Annie Dornan Smith - behind the scenes blog posts

In the Studio Blog

Learn more about my latest launches, get inspired with my styling ideas, or check out the latest news from the studio!

Business Q & A

Today's post is a little peek into my business!

I'll be answering questions for a little Q&A about my biz. I decided to create a "Master Post" of questions and answers for those of you who have sent me emails with questions for career/artist study uni projects. I wanted to help you guys out (without spending my whole life answering emails!) and I also thought it might be interesting to the rest of you guys, too!

Lets get into the questions - if you have some more obscure questions here, you can email me and I'll do my best to get back to you/add them here - but please try to keep em short and sweet. ;)

How did you find your style?

Practice! Honestly, it sounds obvious, but making tome to work on your skills every day will have the most impact on finding a style you are happy with. When I wanted to develop my "people drawing" skillz, I set myself a project to just draw people. I drew them every day and drew a lot. I'm now much happier with my style. Of course - I also think style is something which is always changing and growing - you can never expect to one day be *done* and have found your style and that's it. It's a forever work in progress.

What advice do you have for someone trying to do what you are doing?

Try to find something that's unique. There is so many people out there these days doing 'the business thing' - it's important to find a reason for people to remember you, and give them a reason to buy from you and not the hundreds of other people out there, or H&M, or Primark, or Paperchase, or whatever that may be. However - don't let this scare you away from making things ("because it's not unique enough") - just spend some time developing something that is really "you". 

Which are your favourite craft fairs?

I actually haven't visited that many, but U really enjoy Renegade Craft Fair, and had moderate success at Crafty Fox.

How did you get into illustration?

I studied Graphic Design at university (Nottingham Trent University if you're curious!) which is where I really discovered illustration and all of it's possibilities. I originally wanted to be a editorial Illustrator, but *the wonderful world of the internet* connected me with the possibility of designing my own stuff and selling it, and I became more interested in growing a little business of my own!

When did you start selling your designs?
I started putting work on the internet for people to buy in my 2nd year of uni, but I didn't sell much. Until you're doing it, you really don't realise how much hard work it is to market your work and get people to actually want to buy it! I started taking my business seriously about an year ago and I'd like to think that I've only improved!

Do you have any tips for Kickstarter?

When I was crowdfunding House Jungle, I put a lot of time and effort into a good quality video that was detailed and explanatory. I think it's easy to forget that not everybody knows and understands your product or design as well as you do - so lots of detail and lots of ways to look at how beautiful it is makes you seem a lot more credible and potentially equate to more pledges. I also think having a full "prototype" of my book made a huge difference. 

How do I get published?

I feel like I won't be much help here as I was lucky enough to just be approached by a few publishers following the launch of my Kickstarter campaign. I think people liked my book because it is simple, beautiful and is accessible to a lot of people. I also think that having completed it was a big draw for publishers - I was "selling" them a finished piece that just needed a few tweaks, not trying to convince them of a concept, which probably gave me a bit of an advantage. 

Where do you get "X" Made/Printed?

I know that not everyone hates this question but personally I do! It takes me a long time to research and find a supplier to create the things I imagine in my mind. I don't want to just "hand out" the means to create something that took my imagination, my designing and my time and hard work to research, to anyone who happens to ask. Let your own ideas lead you to research your own designs - and if you want to print some notepad designs of your own, start by googling "get notepads printed"! Again, sorry for the salt as I know this is a controversial topic, but I personally won't answer these questions. 

How do you make/design "X"?

See above ;) Thems the tricks of the trade innit, and the way I create stuff makes up part of my style. Spend time practicing, googling, watching tutorials and figuring out your own techniques to achieve the desired result. It all makes up part of your unique style. 

What equipment/materials do you use?

I mostly paint in Gouache because I love the chalky effect it has, and I use lots of lovely brush lettering in my work which I create with brush pens. I don't favour a particular brand of these enough to recommend one, and - sorry to get all preachy here but - even the snazziest most flashiest brush pen out there won't make you good at brush lettering. Spend time playing with different ones and practising and you'll find one that works for you. Start by searching "brush pen" in Amazon and trying out a few brands.

What do you do in an average day?
I don't have much of a routine - a few constants I have are: spending a few minutes every morning pinning to Pinterest and posting to Instagram, and packing orders and posting them. Other than that, I tend to write a to-do list the day before (at the end of my "work day") and follow it the following day. I tend to work in batches, so I'll have a 'photo taking day' or a 'blog post writing day', etc, which takes up most of my day. I can be drawing and painting, to planning content or marketing  campaigns over the course of a week. 


Read my business Q&A answering some frequently asked questions about running a small illustration based stationery and print business! - Annie Dornan Smith - Illustrated Home and Paper Goods UK