We are so proud of all of our alumni, many have sold work, licensed designs and started their own design labels which are known all over the world. Today we are featuring Deborah Velasquez who speaks of her experience in design and how “The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design” programme re-ignited her career and licensing deals!
Video from Deborah
Deborah was kind enough to record this video to showcase some of her work and talk about her success since taking “The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design” course.
What was your motivation for taking ABSPD?
My motivation for taking ABSPD was to get back into the design industry, after taking a career break to be a stay at home mom, when I had my first child. I saw it as an opportunity to re-focus on the skills needed return to surface pattern design. I found it to be a great fit and a terrific life-line back to the creative life I loved. It was just perfect with kids at home.
Think back to where you were before taking ABSPD. How far have do you feel you have come on your surface pattern design journey since then?
I feel I was able to get to where I needed to be in half the time. My initial plan was to travel to NY and go back to FIT and take course. Had I not taken this course in the journey back to designing it would have most definitely cost more in time and in money.
In what was covered in the course there was valuable insight about the business, especially that mystery called “licensing”. The course helped me get back on track with Illustrator and Photoshop, understand contracts develop relationships with like-minded creatives. In a business where you work by yourself most of the time it is nice to have a community to bounce ideas off of, learn from and network.
What was the most important thing you learnt in the course?
I have a better understanding of manufacturing, licensing, contracts and the opportunities available to make your SPD business successful.
How important was the community aspect of the course? What kind of people did you ‘meet’ through it?
The community aspect of the course changed my life, many dots in my path were connected. It widened my network of creative friends, mentors both online and offline, it has opened up collaborative opportunities as well. Going forward this so valuable as you grow your business. This course has led to other courses that compliment my creative journey, again connecting the dots to create bigger successes in my career. It is because of the community and friendships made that I have acquired licensing deals and entered and won design competitions.
How has your work changed since before the course?
I learned how to present my traditional work in a sharper more professional manner. I learned more about my style and to celebrate it. After the course I made an effort to combine traditional and digital pieces in my artwork. I also have started to combine my painted pieces with block printed layers. Rachael spoke about layering in her course, and I brought more of that thinking into my work because she opened that “door” for me.
“Peace Love Joy”
The above piece started out as an assignment for the ABSPD class for a brief on wrapping paper. It was one of the first pieces picked up for licensing as wall art. Rachael Taylor did comment on it in the Flickr group at the time. Just last week I received a licensing request for boxes with using the same artwork, I said yes. This is the art I hold up in the video above as a “connect the dots” back to ABSPD.
How would you describe your brand look, and how did the course help you develop that?
My Brand has always been “Where Art and Beauty Meet Lifestyle”©. My work has been described as modern, sophisticated, graphic and bold and that it reflects my love for the simplicity of line.
I love the mix of design, words, art and craft. The course helped me embrace it all. Like I said previously I am more comfortable “mixing” my love of both traditional and digital art. Along with my love of watercolour and gouache printmaking is an integral part of my work and I am recognised for that. Since the course, doodles, mark making and silhouettes have making their way into my art more and more and I know that came from Module One, my favorite, by the way! It was about how to “see” things.
Since taking the course what kind of work have you secured?
Since the course I am in a licensing partnership with The World Art Group, which has made my work available through HomeGoods Stores, JC Penney, Sears, Amazon.com, Art.com, AllPosters.com and ZGallerie to name a few.
What challenges have you faced in launching/growing your business and how have you tackled them?
The biggest challenge is and probably will always be family time and living the creative life. My family is part of my creative world and I include and make them part of the experience, whether I am creating or getting ready for a show. In my studio both my children have dedicated spaces with desks, supplies and some of their favorite things so they can be with me after school or on weekends. I am making Sundays more of our family centered day. So far it is working and when it doesn’t I am truly grateful for their flexibility and understanding!
What are you most proud of?
I am so proud of going for it! Living without regret and making fear my friend! What I am most proud of having taken the steps into licensing. I have just about 70 licensed pieces. Many of my pieces have been “Bests Sellers” for the company. Sharing my work and knowing that it is bringing someone joy in their “home space” or “life space” is thrilling.
I just recently won a rug competition with CarpetVista out of Sweden and Home Decor is the area in design that just lights me up. Out of 16,000 entries, I made the first cut to just over 500 contestants then I placed First.
Also, I have just recently secured a studio space with a retail component, I have a “ mini gallery” at the front of my workspace…..Studio+Shop I call it.
All these wonderful things have happened to me in just a year and a half. Very hard work but very proud non the less.
“Strip Over and Under”
This piece is the 1st place rug design win for CarpetVista Competition. This design came about as a blog hop with some ABSPD group members I met in the course. I heard about the contest from Eva Marion who I met in the course, so the community and friendships that evolved from ABSPD really did change my life! I also mention this in the video above
What are you working on now?
I continue to work on my blog sharing process and I work at keeping my Word Path Series fresh. In regards to licensing I continue to create collections for my licensing company. I continue to make submissions in order to secure more licensing partnerships. I am looking within the fabric market and the stationery market. I am making art to fill orders and fill my mini gallery in studio.
What is next for you?
Next, my plans would be to grow my brand and to secure an agent. I plan on having workshops and classes at my studio. I am setting up on a silkscreen area in my studio to print my own work on paper and fabric as well.
Deborah Velásquez, a Brooklyn original, who now enjoys the creative life in the wooded hills of New England with her husband and two sons.
Her inspiration comes from walks on the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard, the streets of Paris and New York, the simple beauty of nature found her back garden, and the primitive innocence of her sons scribbles.
Still time to join us
If you would like to jump start your design career in Surface Pattern Design, we have a new series of classes starting on Monday 24th March. We also have our module 3 starting and our all new module 4 so wether you are a complete beginner, would like to hone in your design skills or get feedback to build your portfolio, there is sure to be a class just for you.
Please take a look at our Design School courses and registration is open here