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Shops That Shine - Stephanie Fizer Coleman

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

{Hello! So happy to have Stephanie Fizer- Coleman here today. I've connected with her during the last year after spotting her charming shop-- she is a gifted artist and inspiration to other with handmade businesses. }

I love hearing where makers draw their inspiration from, can you share with us where you find yours?

For me, it seems that inspiration is everywhere and I'm constanty having ideas pop into my head.  Honestly, it's a great problem to have although it can even be a teensy bit frustrating because I don't always have time to drop whatever I'm doing and dive into a new idea—although sometimes the new idea is so good, I just have to start working on it right away!  I always keep an idea journal on hand though, so I can scribble down my ideas, make rough sketches and keep track of things that inspire me. 

Generally speaking, I draw a lot of inspiration from nature.  I grew up in a rural area surrounded by forest and I now live in small college town that is brimming with trees, flowers and rivers so I'm always finding myself being taken in by the colors and textures of nature.  Colors and patterns in general really inspire me too as do vintage illustrations, especially vintage children's illustrations. 
I notice that you are a self-taught artist (wow!), what steps have you taken to continuously learn and improve upon your craft?

Well, I learned initially from reading tons of art and technique books at first and then later by going through any online tutorials I could find.  And I think that's still an important part of how I continue to learn and grow as an artist, I'm still always adding new art and craft books to my library and I still enjoy browsing through tutorials when I have time. 

People always ask me what books I learned from, as if there is a magic formula, but honestly I've always just poured over all sorts of art and craft books.  The style I've developed as an artist is the result of studying so many different things over the last few years.  My library now contains books on everything from flower identification and typography and from drawing comic books to drawing fairies.

Of course, as I always tell my Inspired Doodles students, the only way to become better at any thing is to practice.  If you want to be an artist, you've got to make time for your art every day, even if it's just a few scribbles in a sketchbook. 
Your charming designs are available in wide range of products including stickers, book plates, note cards and postcards. I’d love to hear more about your process for creating and launching new products.

Usually a product idea will start out as a scribbled note in my idea book.  I used to just try to crank out new products as fast as possible, but I've found that I get better results when I take the time to really think things through. 

My first step is always trying to figure out how I can product whatever product I have in mind.  I have a big fancy Epson printer, so I print some products here in my studio, but in other cases I outsource some of my printing.  When thinking up a new product, deciding whether to produce it in my studio or outsource it really comes down to two factors:  time and money.  Do I have enough time to make this product and still be able to sell it at a reasonable price?  Would producing it on my own be more or less cost effective than outsourcing some parts of the process? 

And of course, I also consider when outsourcing some pieces of my product whether the quality will meet my standards. 

Once I've figured out the how to my product creation puzzle, I can get down to actually designing the product.  And from there it's just a matter of sourcing my materials and either starting the printing process here in my studio or sending files off to the printer. 

Lastly, once everything is ready, I plan out my packaging design and that's it!
Which aspect of running a creative business is the most enjoyable to you? And which has challenged you the most?

I love the part where I actually get to sit down and draw things, of course!  I usually spend my morning taking care of business stuff—answering emails, shipping orders, accounting, etc—so I can spend the rest of my day focusing on freelance work or creating new illustrations for my shop. 

Probably the most challenging thing for me has always been self-promotion.  I'm kinda shy when it comes to talking about myself so when I first started out, I was a bit shy about talking about my business too.  Now, of course, self-promotion and social networking is a big part of how I run my business and stay connected with my customers.  It was a struggle at first to overcome my natural shyness, but in the end I'm so happy to have finally learned to openly share my business. 

In addition to your lovely designs, you also offer creative and business related crash courses. Can you share a bit about why you developed these workshops and what they offer other entrepreneurs?

I've been teaching online workshop for a couple of years now.  I started out with Flourish which was an ecourse that focused on creating and running an indie biz.  And the most recently in 2011 I started offering Inspired Doodles, which focuses a bit on the method I used to teach myself to draw and a bit on tutorials of how I create my work in Photoshop, etc. 

In both of these past workshops, I'd frequently gotten emails from people who really wanted to take part but who couldn't dedicate 4 or 5 weeks to a course because of other obligations.  You know how it is, we're all so busy these days that sometimes it is difficult to make time for the things we really want to do. 

So Crash Courses were born out of my desire to share my teaching with students would didn't have a lot of time but were still interested in exploring business and creative topics.  The Crash Courses are short one week workshops that are delivered daily via email and depending on my schedule, I usually offer a new Crash Course every other month, each one on a new topic.

Thank you Stephanie for sharing your talent and story with us! Look forward to seeing what you create in the new year. 

you can find Stephanie here: 

{{do you know a shop that shines? would you like to be considered for a feature? Please send submissions to allisa.jacobs [at] gmail [dot] com }}