People ask me all the time, “What do you do? What do you design or make?” I wish I could say it simply with one word, like “I’m a dentist.” For the most part, people have a decent idea about what a dentist does. Just saying that I’m an artist, downplays what I really do. Where I work, I wear many different hats and I’m responsible for ALL the different areas in the Creative Department. I feel like the character from The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. It is crazy, I feel like I wear 500 different hats at my job!
So, instead of trying to verbally explain all the little details of what I do, I’m going to show you with some watered down explanations. I pulled some images from Talisman Designs to show you some samples of my work.
My title is Inventor/Creative Director. In a nut shell, I direct, manage, invent, build, design, illustrate, project manage, calendar, stage product, market, and package. As well as the photography and everything that goes into creating a catalog. I’m leaving stuff out but that gives you an idea of what I’m responsible for.
I’ll break it down a little further.
I’m in charge of coming up with the product line. That means I do a ton of trend research and forecasting.
From there I start getting inspired and inventing new concepts. Then I sketch and illustrate a TON of different concepts. Sometimes I skip the sketching part and go right into building a mock-up if I have a very clear vision of the product. Oh, how I wish that happened all the time!
For example, if it’s a kitchen gadget:
After a series of sketches and meetings filled with critiques about my ideas, I build a rough mock-up or prototype of the product to see if it will work. My boss calls me a “MacGyver” because I’ll make stuff out of the craziest materials just so I can test it. That is one of my favorite parts. I LOVE building things.
After the sketch is done and I’ve illustrated it in all views, I direct an industrial designer to model it in 3D. In the meantime, I direct and assist the production artist/project manager to build different die lines for the packaging shape and get various price quotes from different overseas vendors.
The majority of the time, it takes a year to two years from start to finish when it comes to building kitchen gadgets. There are several rounds of experiments and testing in the kitchen. If Katherine (the owner of Talisman Designs) and I are really stumped on a project, we will hire out for more assistance. But that’s rare, because we usually end up solving it. Sometimes it takes a while for new inspiration to come. Patience is definitely a virtue that is constantly practiced at work.
For tabletop items and our non-gadget products, the creative process is more about the aesthetic of the product. It needs to function, of course, but the bigger challenge for these products is coming up with a new trend or style that hasn’t been done before. It needs to be witty and smart, too! So there is definitely an inventing process to these designs.
Then, after a lot more meetings to discuss details and approve a price, a model is printed locally. We choose the right shape of the packaging and coordinate with the Director of Operations to make sure the product will arrive here in one piece and pass a drop test.
From there I design and illustrate 95% percent of the packaging while working with the team to come up with the marketing of the product and its name. I work on several different concepts, then I manage production artists to complete and finish the packaging.
Then on to the photography! I do all the photography. That includes thinking about how the product is going to be shot, making the props, baking/cooking props, staging it, lighting it, and actually shooting it.
Then, I direct the production artist to color correct and clean up the photo.
Then, there’s building a buyer’s/wholesale catalog for each year. I come up with the theme and layout. I direct the production artist to build and design it.
I start out with about 50-60 concepts each year (sometimes more), which gets narrowed down to about 25 products that are put out from this little company. I do this same process for each idea concept!
I’m totally leaving out a ton of detail and other steps, but hopefully you have a better understanding of how products are made. So the next time you pick up a product from Bed Bath and Beyond or another store, you can think of my process and what I do before you bring it home and use it.
I’m curious, what’s your favorite Talisman Designs product? Visit Talisman Designs to see all the products.
We are incredibly devastated for the families of the victims of the shooting in Las Vegas.
I’m just so sorry for the people and families who were affected by this very sad event and please know that our hearts and our prayers go out to you and will continue to regardless of how normal my life feels and looks on this blog or social media.
As unfortunate as this event is, I hope we can come away from that wanting to love more, help more, and be kinder.
All my love to you!