1. What do you do? What are the duties/functions/responsibilities of your job?
I'm a student in college graduating this May and I run a small online business called KB Illustration. I also do some freelance design work on the side! I sell hand screen printed shirts and tote bags, stickers, enamel pins, custom artwork, art prints and more! I design everything myself, package all orders, screen print everything, ship out wholesale orders, keep things running smoothly on Etsy, and run an Instagram page.
2. What kinds of problems do you deal with?
One problem I'm working through right now is my time management! This is my last year of college with a huge focus on preparing our portfolios and websites so we can start interviewing for jobs. We also have projects we're working on other than prepping our portfolios. Screen printing takes a long time (and a lot of clean up time!) so it's very difficult to manage time between school, homework, running a business and getting orders out on time. Oh and having a social life!
3. What kinds of decisions do you make?
I make ALL the decisions! That's one thing that is very different from my graphic design background. At school, we go through tons and tons of critique daily. It can take weeks to get to a final decision with a design project at school. Freelance work usually requires a shorter amount of time to finish, but most of the finalizing decisions are made by the client. My job is to create something with their ideas. KB Illustration is totally opposite! I have an idea, I create the t-shirt idea or sticker, I look it over and decide to change things, then I decide if it's ready to put out into the world! Of course, I have the customer in mind while thinking of these things, but my ~philosophy~ (I guess you could say ha) is that if I would wear it there are at least 2 other people that will wear it! I try to make things I like and that I am passionate about.
4. Why did this type of work interest you, and how did you get started?
I've always been a ~creative type~ doodling in the margins of journals. In high school I took one art class and hated it. Then when I was looking at colleges I thought I wanted to pursue music since that was one of the only things I was mediocre at in high school. 3 of the schools I wanted to go to didn't work out because of money, so I ended up going to a community college and letting things marinate in my brain. I don't even remember how I found out about the Communication Design program at UNT, but I did and it changed my life. It's a gruesome process to get accepted. Very cut-throat. My creative abilities were definitely tested during that time. I kept drawing in boring lecture classes and my style of drawing evolved. Now here I am!
5. What jobs and experiences have led you to your present position?
My first job was at Panera. My second job was at Target. Both experiences showed me that I never want to waste my time doing dumb jobs. That sounds pretentious... Don't get me wrong - they both taught me a lot! I just hated standing for 7 hours at the Target self check-out thinking about how I could be making stuff or doing my design homework instead of watching people buy their $20 candles. The most exciting part was catching people that try to steal stuff. That's when the job was exciting haha. I think working at Target and wanting to quit and have free weekends was what pushed me to really focus in on making this Etsy business work.
6. Can you suggest some ways a student could obtain this necessary experience?
I think if you really want something, you will find a way to make it work. I live in a very small apartment with one desk that my boyfriend and I share. All my supplies are stuffed in a walmart bookshelf. You don't have to have a fancy studio with great lighting to make really nice things. You don't have to have business experience to start a business (although it does help to have friends that know a lot about the subject!). The best thing you can do is try and see where that takes you. Just be ready to mess up a lot. That's just part of it. Learning, failing, succeeding, failing, making it work, learning, success, fail again, repeat.
7. What part of this job do you find most satisfying? Most challenging?
The most satisfying part of this job is when I make a real connection with someone. When people tell me that they've been going through a really dark time in their life and that my shirt makes them feel better every time they wear it - that's AMAZING. We're all humans that feel things and when I am able to make that human connection through something I've made with my hands it feels very good.
8. Which past jobs been most helpful in getting you to this point in your career?
I mentioned before that my hatred for working at Target pushed me to put everything I could into making my Etsy shop work as a job. That and the connections I've made through freelance work, and also Instagram, have really helped me get here! Instagram is the greatest marketing tool in the universe, imo. I've made connections with so many people that I honestly would've NEVER met irl. Having an honest connection with other artists and business owners can only help you learn and grow.
9. Which parts of your job do you find most exciting?
I'd say the most exciting part of this job is when I come up with a new t-shirt design or product idea. It usually takes me a while to get to that new idea, so when I do it's like an adrenaline rush haha! I'll tell myself ok KB I think it's time for a new shirt design. From there it probably takes a week or 2 of crappy drawings and thinking about it at night while I fall asleep to come up with the idea.
10. Which parts of your job do you find most tedious? Why?
The most tedious part of the job is the bookkeeping. BOOOO! No one really tells you how to keep track of your receipts and invoices and how to do sales tax and what are quarterly taxes? Wait I have to pay taxes?? It's a lot! It can be very confusing and if you mess it up there are consequences. This is definitely been something I'm still learning how to do better. Thankfully I have other business owners in my life that are very helpful and have taught me so much. It's worth figuring out this tedious stuff in the beginning so that you are a pro at it later on!