Sunday, March 2, 2014

Working with Other Creative People and Experiencing Their Processes ~ Swirly Designs

As I work on developing some new collections and preparing for my second year at Surtex (booth #337), I discovered that I am evolving as an artist. My passion and connection for watercolors is deeper than I thought and my style is definitely settling for a lighter and more spiritual look.

So, I am happy to be a part of the amazing Lovely Ink Project, a group of twelve artists who have come together to create beautiful art that includes an inspirational saying. We deliver this art to you each month for a year in the form of an 8" x 10" printable image that is ready for framing and a desktop wallpaper to cheer up your workspace. Sign up now and be inspired! It begins on Tuesday, April 1st:

The mission of Lovely Ink is to uplift, to awaken a sense of wonder, and to sprinkle inspiration around the world. The contributing artists include: Jessica Swift, Rachael Taylor, Cori Dantini, Lizzie MacKay, Anne Waters, Victoria Johnson, myself Alex Colombo, Karma Voce, Nicole Piar, Dari Design Studio, Anne Bollman, and Kat Kalindi Cameron!

In the spirit of collaborative work I want to welcome our new guests, artists Lianne & Paul Stoddard, the creators behind Their unique story goes like this: "Our passion for decorating for the holidays inspired us to combine our artistic skills to create our own collection of original handmade polymer clay holiday ornaments. We create ornaments for all the major holidays and have built a nice following of wonderful collectors who anticipate new designs each and every year."

Artists Lianne, Dani, Paul
Early in 2012 they shared a Valentine cookie how-to project through their online/social media outlets which caught the eye of Dani Fiori, founder of She is a cookie decorating expert - her clients include the likes of Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren as well as many other party and event hosts who agree with her mantra that "Life is Sweet!" Lianne and Paul continued, "So she reached out to us and as we chatted through email, a new partnership was born: Sweet + Swirly!"

What's your creative process about, I asked? "When Dani was looking for a way to preserve her cookie designs, she contacted us. We thought what a great way to allow her customers to have a cookie that lasts forever! And we are always looking for something new to offer our own collectors. The challenge for us was how to take Dani's beautifully decorated cookies and interpret them using non-edible products."

I then asked how they developed a product as a team. "We had many discussions deciding which cookies we were going to create out of clay. We both agreed Christmas was the smart choice to launch this collaboration." They had to figure out how many designs and what the theme of the cookies would be since they needed it to appeal to both of their audiences.

"We decided on two designs: a Santa and a snowman snowglobe design. Dani felt a gingerbread cookie base would work well for the holiday. Once we decided on the cookie designs it was up to us to replicate these cookies into clay. We worked on figuring out how to mimic the texture and color of gingerbread. We also were challenged in working out how to replicate her white sprinkles for Santa's beard. Then we searched for just the right seed beads for the snow in the snowglobe. All the while we were making sure these designs represented Dani's cookies but also have that Swirly twist to them."

What they enjoy the most when collaborating is how interesting it is to be working with other creative people, experiencing their processes, and seeing how they interpret and approach different subject matters. They add: "Our communication is mainly through email. Dani will send us sketches or pictures of the selected cookies and we then send her work in progress images. Once we think we have the right look we will send her samples to compare and approve. We think the advantage of working together is that we are able to offer something new and different to both of our customers."

Lianne and Paul love to try new things and having people respond so positively to them makes it so much more rewarding. Their first collaboration sold out for the season and since then they have collaborated twice in 2013: a Halloween set and another gingerbread design.

So what would be good advice or tips for other artists interested in starting up a group? "When deciding to work/collaborate with another creative person make sure both parties could benefit from the experience. Figure out what each person is bringing to the table.

And make sure you know up front who will be doing what, like marketing, selling, shipping etc."

To find out more about Swirly Designs follow these links:

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