Have you *cough* heard about those earrings I made? NO?! Come on! I’ve been talking talking talking about them, like an excited kid talking about his new transformer (trust me, the kid is non-stop transforminationing).
Earrings are not my first foray into product design. Many years ago I tried my hand at greeting cards. I tried to set up a shop selling prints, I tried Society6, and more recently Redbubble. Most of these forays into selling my artwork were… overwhelming to set up, and underwhelming in self-esteem indicators and sales performance. (Most were well before social media). You see, I had very little experience as a designer and as an illustrator. I knew technically how to make greeting cards, how to set up files for print, how to draw a little — but looking back on those early cards (I still have some! ha!) I can see they are lacking. I also had NO idea how to sell them. Annnnd, my passion was completely stymied by fears — would I lose money? Would people laugh at them? Would people completely ignore them? OMG, would somebody ‘discover’ me and then expect me to perform?!
Which brings me to those aforementioned earrings. When I came upon the idea, I was hungry for change. I had spent the last while feverishly focused on somebody else’s dream and had ended up in a twist, wondering what on earth I was striving for! I was dumped out of something I had spent SO much of my time crafting, honing and almost bullying into shape and I was in shock. But, after a while, something twigged. I had learned SO much from that feverish time, that I couldn’t let the shock completely take the wind out of my sails. It might have been a phone call from a friend saying something like ‘it’s your time now, Zoe. You don’t need to lean on anyone else. You’ve GOT this’. It was likely the excitement I saw in a new friend’s eyes when I said I was hoping to make a range of earrings. It definitely had something to do with that wondrous MBA course from Make Art that Sells.
So, I did it. I sat down and went through my archives to see if I had anything that I could use to make earrings. And as it turns out, I had PLENTY. I had stuff from about ten years ago! I had stuff from a month or two prior, and I tried to make some new stuff (unsuccessfully, which is probably because I needed to focus on the design of the form and shape of the earrings, plus all the research that goes into making something completely new…).
I then contacted my friend John and we did it. We made this tiny range of extremely gorgeous and close-to-my-heart earrings. All the years of fiddling around, making mistakes, learning what it feels like to create things I love, and things I hate (and things I feel lukewarm about)… it all lead down a path to 287 pairs of unique, very limited edition drops, hoops, studs and even a brooch. Or two… OH and one pair of clip-ons!
I can’t tell you how many mistakes were made, how many pairs of earrings failed and were consigned to the ‘these are totally fucked’ pile (And glue! FECKING glue! I’ve hated it since packaging design 101 at design college. I hate it so much I am refusing to use it on the next range of earrings.). I also couldn’t tell you how many times I heard that little voice politely asking if now was the right time to just give up? But y’know, I’d take a breath, run my fingers through those pretties and my heart would settle and somebody else would ask me how the earrings were coming along and their conversation would help me solve whatever problem I was facing. Sigh. I have honestly LOVED this process. And, I tell you, I am not one for loving the design process. It hurts. Often and a lot. But then again, I LOVE the process. You know you’re onto something when it’s hurting. You know if you push through, rewrite those chapters, restructure that thing that took you a year to write, redraw that bluddy peacock tail, that something will click… eventually.
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