Design Like A Kid
This week on Overtime, a new brand launches lowbrow art kits that encourage you to channel your inner child and make things with your hands again. Plus, get the inside scoop on an awesome new design fellowship & summit that completely changes the landscape of how our industry shares knowledge.
Last but not least, let’s talk about using capitalism for good—we’re talking about how to vote with your wallet and make more ethical purchasing choices as a creative. Let’s go!
Thanks to our friends at Collective for sponsoring this episode — Collective is the first online back-office platform designed for self-employed people. They handle company formation, taxes, accounting, bookkeeping, compliance, and more. Check out their exclusive offer for the Dribbble community and get 2 months @50% off with the code DRIBBBLE10.
Links mentioned in this episode
Meg: Hello, we’re back, we’re back, we’re back, we’re back, we’re back! It’s me, your host, Meg “(French) Oui Oui Oui, Ho Ho Ho” Lewis. I’m always here, every week. It’s me, the same person. What if it wasn’t? What if this episode had a Meg impersonator who was just very good? If that person exists, I would like to hire them full-time so I could just take a nap all day long. Wouldn’t that be great? Well, welcome back to Overtime. You know what this is, I know what this is, but maybe there’s a new person who just stumbled into this podcast from, you know, the year 1971. They time traveled, they plopped down onto a desk in their time travel, they just zapped down with headphones on and this podcast was playing, and they have no idea what’s going on. So, for that person, 1971 person, hello. You’re listening to a podcast. I don’t know what a podcast is, but this is one, and this is Dribbble’s weekly podcast where I give you design news, and also some more things to help you make your best work. Yeah. I nailed that. Oh, I’m losing it. Yes, losing control over my voice and my brain and my mouth is what’s happening. This week on Overtime, a really new, neat, design fellowship and summit launches, and I think it completely changes the landscape of how our industry shares knowledge. Oh, and a new brand launches lowbrow art kits that I will say finally get me excited to make things with my hands for the first time since I was a kid. Ooh, plus, utilizing capitalism for good, and how we can be creatives who make physical goods more ethically. Let’s go!
I am super excited to tell you about Collective. Collective is on a mission to redefine the way businesses of one work. They’re the first online back office platform designed for freelancers like me. Well, it’s not exactly just me, because nearly 59 million people, which is like 36% of the workforce in the U.S., run their own solo business. So, it’s time for a better platform to enable the largest group of entrepreneurs in this country to focus on their passion and not the paperwork. Collective handles company formation, taxes, accounting, and so much more. And as a freelancer myself, this platform really speaks to me as finances are not something I love handling. It’s my least favorite part of my job. I cannot stress that enough, I hate it. So, be sure to check out their exclusive offer for the Dribbble community: two months at 50% off with the code Dribbble10. So, go to collective.com/dribbble.com.
I’ve just got to say, I’m so excited about Made in the Future. It’s a fellowship that just launched last week by Kristy Tillman, who is the head of Slack’s global experience design, but that is a small detail in Kristy’s amazing career. And Kristy, as a human, I have worked with Kristy a few times over the last few years and have loved every minute of working with her. She’s very smart, and I trust her to do anything good with this industry, so if I were to create a president of the design industry, I might nominate Kristy.
Anyway, so Kristy launched Made in the Future. It’s a fellowship, it’s absolutely incredible, it’s a full-ride, free, three-day summit with mentorship for a whole year matched with a ton of additional programming and workshops, all completely free and a totally full-ride for underrepresented creatives, and it’s just spectacular. And I think it’s very fascinating because it’s only this. This is only something that’s created to give for free to other people. So, rather than, I think, a lot of the experiences in our industry, which [are] usually catered towards people who pay for the event, and then tacked on to the side like, “Oh, we also do sponsorships just in case you can’t afford it.” This is completely flipped upside down where it’s just available for free. And there’s actually no open content for people who want to pay for it, which I think is fascinating, or at least that’s what it seems like from my perspective right now. Maybe it’ll open up in the future. I don’t know though, because the whole premise of this is that it is a fellowship, so brands and individuals can support fellows. And then prospective fellows can apply and then get accepted. And it’s this incredible three-day summit with so many speakers. And then after the three-day summit, each fellow is paired with a mentor for a complete year-long relationship. And then all throughout that time, there’s additional content and workshops and talks and all sorts of things available to these fellows.
So yeah, it’s directed towards anyone who just needs it, whether you’re earlier in your career, whether you’re a student, or whether you’re changing your career to be in this industry. It seems like, in the FAQ section, it says it’s primarily for product designers, UI/UX designers, brand communication designers, or creative technologists, which does span a huge section of the industry. I don’t necessarily know if it’s so much for illustrators or fine artists because of the mentors that they have said in their FAQ section of who it’s for, but there are some mentors like Tim Goodman, who is an illustrator, primarily more of a fine artist, and Jessica Hische is in there too. It is, oh my gosh, it’s so exciting. I’m so excited about it. And I think it’s absolutely fantastic that it is created for people who need it the most, right? This is what our industry absolutely needs.
So, I’m interested to see it take shape, I think it’s going to keep happening over and over and over again. Right now, they’re about to head into their first three-day summit in December, which is very exciting. So, if you are an underrepresented, and by that, they define their section of under-representation as meaning black and brown ethnicities, so if that’s you, go to madeinthefuturefellowship.com and apply to become a fellow, because, oh my gosh, all of this incredible, free information, anybody would love to have. So, if you have the time, and you have the need to learn this information, go to the website. And also, anybody should go to the website and see who all these mentors are, who all the speakers are at the summit, because it’s going to be an absolutely incredible experience, and something that we should all definitely support and get involved in. So, whether or not you have extra cash, plop that in the Made in the Future fellowship, because it’s only going to help fuel the learning experience for other people, which is great. We should all support each other and help each other thrive in this industry because there is room for everyone.
You know, when something lands in my lap, or I hear about an announcement, something happens, something new launches, and I feel like it’s a great opportunity for people to feel supported and included and a part of an experience and it’s not harming anybody, these are the things I like to cover, as you probably noticed on this podcast. And something new that launched recently that I got really excited about, because it does just this, is a company called Curiosity Studio, which is locally in my town where I live in Minneapolis. And so, it’s a physical, or it was a physical workshop series or class series where you could go in and make things with your hands and for adults to get creative and playful. Great premise, great lineup of instructors, absolutely fantastic. But now, as the pandemic has happened, I think they, like all of us, have had to get really creative with how they want to take their platform and offer it in a way that is virtual, or at least just not reliant on a physical space.
So, what they’ve done – this company, Curiosity Studios, co-founded by Lauren Callis and Ashley Mary, you might be familiar with one or either of those two wonderful humans, follow them on the internet for sure – what they’ve done is they’ve started to make these kits. And even the fact that this business is based in Minneapolis does not matter, because these kits are available to you, no matter where you live. And the kits, [they’re] going to launch three different kits throughout this year. Right now, there’s one launch, and each of the three kits are going to have a different theme, and maybe we’ll do more in the future if we actually buy and support them. And with each kit, there’s a theme and the first theme of the kit that they have out today is called Shapes. And the thing I love the most about these kits and why I’m so excited to talk about these kits with you is because, me, as a digital designer, I am the classic digital designer where I just trust my mouse or trackpad hand so much, but as soon as I have to make anything with my hands, it does not go as well as I had hoped. I have that issue where my hand does not go where my brain wants it to go and it’s so frustrating anytime I make anything physical, so I’ve stayed away from drawing, I’ve stayed away from crafting, I’ve stayed away from doing anything intricate with my hands, because it just makes me feel not great, just because I’m not as comfortable with it.
And the thing I like the most about these Curiosity Studio kits is that they are essentially art kits, you’re making some kind of art with your hands, and it’s a kit full of supplies that helps you make that piece of art, but this stuff and this kit, the stuff that you output is so low brow. And let me explain: [in] the first kit, Shapes, you get all the supplies, you get foil, so what you do is you are sculpting essentially, you’re sculpting with foil. So, you know, whenever you crumple up foil, you can make it into a ball, and then if you press on that ball enough, you can make it into a different shape. So, what you’re doing here is you’re sculpting with foil, so you’re making a shape, or you’re making something with foil that’s three dimensional, and then they give you tape. So, what you do then is you wrap the foil sculpture that you’ve made in tape, which helps bind it together, but what it’s really doing is it’s giving you a surface to paint on. So, once you wrap it with tape, then they also supply you with all the paint [and] all the supplies you need to actually paint that tape-wrapped foil shape that you’ve created.
So, if you go on their website, it’s curiositystudioclass.com, you will see some examples of what this means. But it looks like the output is the derpiest, lowest brow version of a sculpture I’ve ever seen, and it’s perfect. It is absolutely perfect for me, because I’m not necessarily a perfectionist at all, I will say that I’m not a perfectionist, but if I immediately try some sort of new craft or form of art, and I’m just so bad at it that I make it look awful and it looks nothing like a professional would have done in any regard, then that usually scares me off of trying to do it again, which is not a great quality. I don’t like that about myself very much. I should push through and persevere. But instead, I tend to just be like, “Oh, I did a horrible job, I can never show my face around this craft or art ever again.” So, then I just kind of never do it again and move on to something else. But the thing I like about this kit is that the output is supposed to look pretty derpy, and I love that. Because if I make something that looks like somebody who didn’t know what they were doing made it in the end, that’s actually what it’s supposed to look like.
So, this is actually the perfect experience for me, and I think that this sort of lowbrow art creation or craft creation is perfect for that sort of art therapy experience or that exploratory or curious phase that we get so excited about as creatives. You know, when you were a kid, and you would just play around with different media, and you would just play and have fun? And you weren’t necessarily as worried about what the end result would look like? But now I feel like, well, for me, at least as an adult, I don’t have that magic anymore. I get so concerned about the end output or the end result of what it’s going to look like eventually, that the play isn’t necessarily as fun as it used to be, because I’m too worried about it going into a direction that I’m not going to like. Whereas when we were kids, if it went into a direction we didn’t like, it wasn’t that big of a deal.
So anyway, all of this is to say that I’m super excited about this kit, because it’s going to bring a lot of that curiosity, which is in their name, back into my practice and back into an experience. And throughout this pandemic, I have just been looking for new things to get into, so this is going to help take up some time in a fun way. Isn’t that nice? Wouldn’t we all like to spend our time having at least a little bit of fun? We deserve it, right? You and I, we definitely do. So, if you’re interested in that kind of thing, check it out. It’s going to be, I think, a great gift to give somebody, for sure, but at least give it to yourself, right? Or just do some crafts and have some fun, make art in a playful and curious way, and let’s all just be a little bit less concerned about what the end result looks like.
(Singing) Because we’re living in a consumerist world, and yeah, we’re in a capitalistic world. Oh, yeah. And okay. Oh, I could have just left the lyrics to that song the same. “We’re living in a material world.” That would have made the same point. Oh, goodness gracious, when Meg parodies songs that are already a parody that basically serves the same point.
So yes, we have created, we live in, we’re a part of, we perpetuate a capitalistic world. But I don’t want you to get depressed about that, because we have to live in that. This is the world we created; we have to live in it. So, what I would say is, let’s make smarter choices. Yay! I’m with you on this, I am a work in progress. I am a person who shops on Amazon often, because it’s fast, it’s cheaper than the others, and it’s just convenient, and I am a part of the problem. I get it. But what I’m doing lately, and what I know a lot of us are doing and I know you want to as well, is voting with my wallet, being more conscious about supporting businesses and creatives and independent people that are sharing my values, or making the world a better place. And we’re all trying to do that, I hope you are too. And if you’re not, I want to just kind of give you some thoughts on how you can both create things and make physical goods as a creative in a way to support the world, but also vote with your wallet a little bit more and support independent creatives and makers.
So, I think the base question for a lot of us is, and I’ve, you know, had this question many times is, “How can I be more ethical with my purchasing, when the ethical things are the most expensive things? I’m just trying to survive.” And first of all, if you are just trying to survive and have your basic needs met, you do what you need to do to survive in this world. This world was not created in your favor, so you have to fight to survive. So, get yourself there. Please do not struggle to survive because you’re taking Meg Lewis’s advice of supporting independent creatives and makers and not shopping on Amazon. You need to do what you have to do to survive in this world. Please, oh my gosh, yes. Okay? But whenever I’m talking about making ethical decisions, when the ethical decisions are often more expensive, definitely more expensive than Amazon, let’s think here for a moment about, rather than buying cheap, cheap both in price, but also in quality items where you’re constantly throwing them out and re-buying, purchasing based on trends, and then the trends pass and then you have to re-buy, again, we’ve talked about this before, for sure, let’s make more intentional purchases, stop for a moment and think about what this purchase is going to mean for you. How long it’s going to last and that kind of thing.
So, as we know, the math checks out on if you buy a higher quality item from a company that is more ethical in their practices, it’s going to last you a lot longer, it’s going to make you feel a lot better for longer than if you bought a cheap object, cheap in quality and price, that you’re going to have to keep replacing every so often. So, this goes true for almost any product we might use. So, it’s a long-term thing, and I think it also really requires you to have to think long term with your purchasing and purchase less. You just have to get in the mindset of not purchasing as often, and then whenever you do purchase, you have to make that purchase more intentionally and you have to make it matter more and mean something more, which is great. I mean, it’s a great way to save money in the long term. Absolutely.
So, whenever we’re talking about creatives specifically, you and I, let’s make physical goods. Let’s allow people to support us. Let’s, if we’re going have this capitalistic world, we might as we might as well dive on in. Let’s be a part of it in a way that makes the world a better place. Because creating physical goods, selling things, whether it’s physical or digital, is a great way to allow people to support us, but it’s also a great source of passive income. And we can be a part of a system of letting people vote with their wallet and be intentional with their spending by supporting us as creatives. When we say support independent creatives and makers, we’re talking about you and me, baby. Yeah, we are the independent creatives and makers that should be supported, because it’s rough out there, especially now. So, whatever way that you can find to make more money, heck yes, make physical products, make digital products, offer things to other people that benefit their lives. Yes.
So, whenever we’re talking about making physical goods, for example, I think it’s important for you to think about overhead and how much it’s going to cost for you to put in initially into these products and how much you’re going to get out of it at the end, because I’ve definitely been guilty many times of miss-guessing how popular an item will be. So, a tee shirt for example, I’m like, “Oh, this is going to go viral. Everybody’s going to want one. I’ll have 300.” And then 25 people, maybe, buy one. And then I have hundreds of shirts lying around in my basement currently. And then what? Then how do I offload all these shirts? No one wants them. Do I just keep moving them every time I move? Or do I sell them for cheap? Do I put them on sale? Nope, nobody’s buying those. And how do we deal with that? It’s too much. It’s very, very, very wasteful. Oh my gosh.
So, perhaps with your overhead, can you go for an on-demand supplier or perhaps a local print-on-demand supplier or even the small run supplier? Those have saved me so many times; local print shops that are totally cool with me only printing 12 of something rather than 300. Yes. So, if you can ask around in your community and find that small run supplier, that little tiny print shop that is totally okay with just printing a few items for you. Or, if they’re cool with making an arrangement on doing print-on-demand, there are also a lot of other creative people that have a screen-printing station that would maybe do this for you. Do you know somebody who is looking for an odd job on the side and wants to help you with this stuff? Wants to help produce these things on demand for you or wants to help you fulfill items? Maybe you do. I am a huge fan of starting businesses with no overhead or figuring out a way I can do things all on my own with only my own time spent.
So, I asked Instagram this question last week where I said, “Is there any sort of fulfillment on-demand shop that you actually recommend?” You know, like Society6, but where I can control it from my own shop. And people recommended companies like Printed Mint, or Printful, or Printify, or Printle Doodle Doo. That’s not a real one. They all just have print, and then some letters after. It’s Printle Doodle Doo! Oh my gosh. Okay.
So, anyway, I found that, secretly, a lot of people that you and I love that sell physical products all use these companies, and I did not realize that. So, a little poke around to figure out how those companies are doing their printing: is it ethical? Where are the warehouses located? What are the conditions like inside of the warehouses? All very important questions, and most of them are being transparent now about what their printing practices are, so it’s a little bit easier now than before to get to the bottom of that information. And luckily, the internet will tell you. You can ask people on the internet, and they’ll tell you what it’s actually like, what the tea is on that printing company and that manufacturer, so do it.
But I will say, if you want to go in the Society6 realm, it’s great because they do the mock-ups for you, it’s beautiful, and you don’t have to have your own online shop. But you have your real-world examples of your designs on physical printed goods, which is great, it’s great if you want to get yourself wedged into textile design and all of that. But I will tell you right now, I’ve said this many times before, Society6 is not the best way to make money. I sure as heck have hardly made any money on my Society6 store. One month, I made 40 dollars. So, that was that was a big month for me in my shop, but most months, I make, like, two bucks or maybe 14 bucks. It’s not a lot, so if you have the ability to have your own URL, a store on that URL, you’re definitely going to make more money. But it’s up to you on how much you want to fight for making money in this regard, and how much work you want to put into it, of course, because whenever you have your own shop, you have to worry about sales tax, and the shipping weights and rates and actually fulfilling and shipping. It’s hard. And it’s not my favorite part of my job, that’s for sure. So, I will keep you updated. I’m launching my own online shop, maybe this week, did I launch it today? Maybe? Maybe, I did. I’m recording this in advance, obviously, and I really have no idea when I’m launching my online shop. But it’s going to have prints and shirts and you know, the traditional designer-sold items.
But as we are approaching the gifty time of year, if you celebrate or not, we’re heading into a time of year where more people buy gifts than the rest of the year. So, we’re going to have to really be mindful this year, please, of what we’re gifting and who we’re gifting from, what businesses we’re supporting, because every, I mean so many creative or small businesses [are] struggling this year and this is, wow, the perfect time to support them. But also, I know you’re struggling right now, so if you can make physical goods or digital goods and allow people to support you, as in buy your things, and support you through getting your things from you and giving them as gifts, please allow us to do that. Because we have more time on our hands now, we are planning ahead more than often, right? I would hope so. We have a lot of time to start thinking about this. Now, I know it’s still spooky season, I know, but, but, but, but, but we’ve got a lot of time to plan. And the less time you have to plan, the more, I know from personal experience, you just hop on Amazon if you are running out of time. So, if you have more time than usual, then make these decisions now and start supporting small businesses and independent makers and creatives, and also start planning your own online shop right now. Because the timing is perfect. Chef’s kiss, mwah.
Oh, I’m so sorry you had to hear my kissing sounds in front of a microphone. That is not ideal. But that’s it for this episode of Overtime. If you want to continue this conversation on the internet, use #DribbbleOvertime, or please give us a little review on Apple podcasts if you have the time and energy. Or, if you want to tweet me, tag me, send me a letter, I actually am not going to give you enough information for that, you have to figure it out based on my Twitter handle and my Instagram handle, which is @yourbuddymeg. Okay. Bye buddy. Hear me next week.