AIGA Wisconsin made a nice discovery in the most recent Communication Arts Illustration Annual: a spotlight on a very cool calendar project by a Madison-based designer named Heather Lins. A visit to her website revealed that her design biz is a “doodle factory, a dream realized, a labor of love.” So what is it that Heather Lins, fellow Wisconsin graphic designer, does for a living? We tracked her down to find out more.
“I was working as a graphic designer, looking for inspiration. One day I was sketching… it was sort of a personal thing, asking myself: if I could design anything, what would it be? And then, designs for pillows and table linens just starting pouring out of my pen.”
Heather was always a fan of magazines like Domino and House Beautiful, so in a way the designs were no surprise. But the excitement she felt at doing design projects “unfettered by clients,” so to speak, was all new. She decided that she was going to give it a shot: get the designs produced on real products–throw pillows and so on–and set herself a deadline. She targeted the New York International Gift Fair, and set to work getting the products ready.
She was juried into the “Up & Coming Designers” area, chosen as one of three designers to be singled out, and the next thing you know she was writing up orders and getting featured in that favorite magazine of hers: Domino. Since then, her products have been featured in the New York Times, Swiss Miss blog, GQ and ReadyMade magazines, to name a few.
Heather is no longer doing straight-up graphic design for clients, but she does straddle two worlds as a product designer and as a consultant, helping people who want to start their own product lines. Heather now has a wealth of experience in finding production resources, self-promotion, and more; and one thing she enjoys is sharing that knowledge with other creatives with similar aspirations.
Heather says, “Graphic designers have some great skills that make them uniquely qualified for running a business, and specifically a product line. We are able to talk about our work. We are knowledgeable about positioning a product and a brand. We know the power of design in a sale. We get deadlines; that helps when approaching the press. Plus, we know what it feels like to be a vendor.”
Heather will be taking her philosophy about designers-as-business-owners to the road when she presents at the How Conference, on June 26th in Chicago. We will be updating you about that later as the date approaches.
Meanwhile, check out Heather’s fabulous products on her website, heatherlinshome.com.
Post by Stacey Williams-Ng