Over the weekend we launched our new website…. and now you know what has been keeping me so busy over the last
year few months. This, and Jamie’s wedding, and adjusting to a new life, and volunteering, and…
So you might ask what all is involved in the life of a designer, and just what it takes to set up and run a website like this. Well, if you are self-employed, you already know it takes more hours than the traditional 9 to 5, Mon-Fri job. More often than not, this is a 24-7 kind of life. And it takes two of us to keep it all going.
Thankfully I have my techie son Jared who works for peanuts. He is responsible for setting up and maintaining two websites, an online shop, and two blogs, and for all technical aspects involved in maintaining several e-mail accounts for me. And he likes to update the technology constantly… he says it’s because it forces me to learn new things, thus exercising my brain and helping me to stay young. Now that’s love!
So just what do I do? Well, I draw and draw and draw. A lot. And I don’t use all I draw for any given pattern. For example, for one of the blocks of Pumpkin Pie I drew three different blocks, and then hemmed and hawed for a while before I decided which one to use. And this is an average figure – sometimes I draw more, sometimes less, but almost always more than one block, and then I choose which one to use.
What do I do then with the unused designs? They go into my block library, and hopefully will make their way into another project. Or one of the block collections offered on My EQ Boutique.
All in all, I can easily spend two to three full days in the drawing stage alone for a particular project. I then have to put it all together in a pattern. Fortunately, all of my patterns are offered as PDF files, so I don’t have to deal with printing and distributing/mailing issues. This explains in part why I am able to offer so many patterns, as opposed to designers who mail out theirs.
Over the years I have developed a system that works well for me. I design with Electric Quilt software. I then export images and templates to a graphics program where I edit the images and work on layout diagrams, numbering on the full-size designs, additional instructions, etc. I end up with tons of little image files, including true-size patterns/templates. I take all of that and move to a desktop publishing program, where I work on the texts/instructions, import the images and templates, and layout the entire pattern. From there I export it to a pdf file, and it is ready to be uploaded to the website.
Putting an entire pattern file together doesn’t usually take as much time as drawing the project, but can be involved and can easily take a full day’s work. If I am able to finish two sampler-type patterns in one week, that is quite an accomplishment. One is more realistic.
Obviously, I work ahead. For the Angie’s Bits ‘n Pieces website, for example, I am now starting on all the Block-of-the-Month projects for next year, as well as other patterns to be offered through the summer. Come January I will be starting on our Christmas in July series. For The Applique Garden, we’re pretty much set through the end of the Summer 2014. Here’s a sneak peek of just a few more upcoming projects for next year, beyond what has already been announced on that website.
You probably wonder if all this work is worth it. Quite frankly, working the way I do at another profession (like my old career as a conference interpreter) might earn me a lot more money. I just don’t know if I would be as happy, because here I get to do what I love. And, at the end of the day, I might not live in the lap of luxury, but it keeps me clothed and fed, and has even allowed me to put a daughter through college! What more could I ask for?