Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a surface designer. Hello, I'm Shirlee, an illustrator and designer based in Southern California. From a very young age, I have made art and loved to create things out of just about anything. However, it wasn't until after college and teaching Elementary Art, that I started to believe in my abilities and that my art could be a viable source of income. I have slowly built my business since 2016, while obtaining my teaching credentials, teaching, and having two children. In January of 2021, I decided to go all in and see what could happen. I can say this decision was built upon years of developing practices to help me push past my inner critic and start to believe in my abilities. I am happy to say that because of this, I developed an entire stationery and gift line under the brand Quiet Lines Design and I now sell my products in over 150 shops in the US and Canada. I am still in the play and discovery stage of surface pattern design. This is an area of design that I have been interested in developing, and it is my desire to carve a lot of time in 2023 to start building out collections to pitch for licensing opportunities.
What influences your art the most? When it comes to inspiration, I am always on the lookout for how my own "day-to-day life" can inspire my haikus I write on my cards and the illustrations I create. My children, the outdoors, and my life experiences are what help me to create my strongest work. When I step away from looking online for inspiration, deeply look inward, and create from a quiet place, I find that I am the most fulfilled with what I am creating. My practice of journaling also inspires the artwork I create.
What mediums do you use to create your art? Currently, all of my artwork I create is done on my iPad using the app called "ProCreate." I use ONE pencil in that program, my faithful 6B pencil, and I scribble to create my heavily textured illustrations.
You work primarily in stationery. Do you have plans to expand into other sectors of surface pattern design?
Since 2019, pouring myself into building my stationery line has been my primary focus. At this point in my business, I finally feel like I am starting to have more space and time to expand into other revenue streams. I intend for 2023 to be the year that I build out my portfolio and create patterns to pair with spot illustrations.
Have you licensed any of your work or do you want to only sell wholesale and direct-to-customers?
I have licensed three of my card designs, but licensing is an entirely new revenue stream for me. Wholesale has taken all of my time and attention and is something that takes a lot of systems to be efficient and profitable. I would love for the future of my business to be more passive as my children are still very little, and leaning into licensing is one way I hope to achieve that.
In addition to your artwork, you recently started a podcast called The Tillage Podcast. Tell us a bit about what topics you discuss on your podcast?
If there could be ONE thing I am most proud of in the year 2022, it would be starting The Tillage Podcast. This project is my heart and soul, and it has been several years in the making. The podcast for me is like having a coffee with creatives and opening up a space to talk about all of the "uninvited guests" that come to our creative sessions: comparison, imposter syndrome, decision paralysis, fear, hustle mentality, and many more that knock on the door.
I personally have had my biggest dreams and ambitions stalled because it takes so much work to push these "uninvited guests" out the door. I have often felt very alone on my creative entrepreneur journey. I wanted to bring awareness and normalize these very REAL limiting beliefs and mindset traps that artists and creatives feel. In doing so, my hope is that others will feel less alone and will be able to breathe a deep sigh of relief that what they are feeling is in fact normal. When you listen to the podcast, every episode is centered on themes and struggles artists deal with and how we can have tools to move past them. My interviews are my favorite to produce because they are deeply vulnerable chats and I can help highlight how others have conquered their own inner critic or other hurdles in their creative journey.
I am excited to announce that I am opening up enrollment for my membership "The TIllage Village," where artists and creatives can have a place to continue the dialog happening on the podcast, have reflection worksheets to work through, co-working sessions to attend, and have community. You can read more about it and sign up below!
Do you have any tips can you can share with us that have helped you to have a flourishing wholesale business?
I believe that having a unique product will help you stand out from other brands. It has taken several years for me to build my brand, Quiet Lines Design, and I have been intentional in creating stationery that is unique from what is on the market. I have also invested a lot in having professional product photography, which I believe has elevated my product, brand, and my wholesale catalog. If you have a strong product and it is meeting a need, the next step is finding shops that will find it easy to say "YES" to your product. A tip if you are just starting out, is to be actively looking on social media for shops where you could see your products. Create an excel spreadsheet with their email and address, and start pitching! The way I grew my line to 150 shops was built on pitching and pitching and more pitching. It has taken me as long as 18 months to get my first order from some shops. Know that it takes time and that it also takes shops a while to trust new brands that are landing in their inbox. Not until this year did I also bring on sales reps to also extend my reach.
What's next for you in your artistic endeavors? Are there any other companies or designers you would like to collaborate with?
Since I have a teaching credential and a Masters in Education, it only makes sense that I flex that muscle a little bit in the online education world. As I mentioned before, my desire for 2023 is to throw my hat in the ring for licensing but I also am going to be developing my first course and some classes to share on Skillshare. I don't have any dream companies that I want to work with yet, but I would love to see some future patterns I create on kids' clothing and products. As a mom of two under the age of 4, it would make my heart skip a beat to have my kids wear my own patterns! :)
Websites: www.quietlinesdesign.com www.thetillagepodcast.com Social Links: Instagram: @quietlinesdesign and @thetillagepodcast Link to listen to the podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-tillage-podcast/id1642453480
Join the TILLAGE VILLAGE to find community, accountability, and be intentional about uprooting your limiting beliefs! As a Founding Member, you will also be given the best price of $37 a month and it will stay at that price as long as you remain a member. This will also be a 6-month commitment with the entire payment ($222) paid upfront to encourage true community and growth in each membership.
What can you expect from this membership?
2 co-working sessions a month
A weekly journal prompt
A monthly workshop and workbook centered on a limiting belief topic or area to grow in for your business or art practice
Newfound community and friends
Support and accountability for your goals
A place to openly discuss topics shared on The Tillage Podcast
Extra bonus interviews and Q&As from guests on The Tillage Podcast
The gate swings wide open for you to join The Tillage Village from January 24th until January 31st. Join the waitlist today!
Follow along on lnstagram: @quietlinesdesign @thetillagepodcast