Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Etsy shop find...a chat with Jill McDonald!

I'm really happy to say I'm featuring a designer today whose work I've admired since my University days, and was over the moon when she agreed to take part in the etsy interview posts, yay!
So, up today...Jill McDonald!

I love her work...so bold and colourful with a lovely naive quality to it, perfect for kids.
Her etsy shop stocks growth charts, wall art and prints, and many can be personalised for your little one. 

Here goes...
Let's get to know Jill.


1. Can you tell us a bit about you and your background...  
Since I was a little girl I always made art. I am dyslexic & found school difficult. Making art was my happy place where I was content and felt free.
Early on it was clear I would be going to art school. I ended up at Rhode Island School of Design where I majored in textile design.  After graduating I moved to N.Y.C and was a print stylist for Baby Gap & Gap Kids.  
Missing my family, longing for some green space & a little more personal space I decided to move back to Kansas City, Missouri where I grew up.  
There I got a job with Hallmark Cards as an illustrator.  
Three years later I grew restless I wanted to try it on my own.  
I am happy to say that was over 10 years ago.  
So all & all it worked out!



2. Who is your design hero and how do you stay inspired?

I have many design heroes... 
Mary Blair, Henry Matisse, Alexander Girard, Picasso, Marc Chagall, The Provensons
The older I get the more amazed I am at how much talent there is in the world- past & present!
I stay inspired by being plugged into my life & the world around me.  
I find inspiration in my everyday life & do my best to bring my point of view to my art.


3. What books/ magazines are currently on your coffee table?

We have tons of children's books on the coffee table.  
I take a weekly trip to the library & grab a new batch to read to my son Luca.


4. What art do you have on your wall?

We are building a house & have been living in our studio space for the past year! 
(it's been cramped) We will move in to our new place in about 3 months & 
I can't wait!!  
My husband Antonio takes a lot of family pictures.  
At our last house we had a large gallery wall up our stair way filled with special
moments of our life & our loved ones.  
We mixed in some paintings (by some friends & myself) ,along with some inspirational art - my I Think I Can poster & 
a quote I like about how a family makes a house home, A be BOLD poster. 
We plan to do this again. 
I like how it gives me a boost & makes me remember what's really important to me.


5. What’s the most popular item for sale in your etsy shop?
The I Think I Can poster has been a big success!


6. What are you working on currently? And any big plans for the coming year?
I am working on a new picture book for Barefoot Books & a board book series for Random House Kids.
I am writing the board books as well so this is the first time I'll be writing & illustrating for a major publisher.
Super exciting! 
(and a little scary)

My big plan for the year is to find time to sit & paint for a couple months.  
The goal here being to create some exciting new starting points for my art.
My schedule is a little  gobbled up with lots of previously scheduled commitments - which is good but & I'm anxious to sit back down again with no project in hand & just see what happens.  
We exhibit at Surtex every year but I'm considering trying the licensing show for the first time in 2015.  
That would be a new show for me & I find it's always good to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit.


7. What’s the most rewarding thing about being a designer/illustrator?
For me the most rewarding part is that when the work comes from you it's your personal journey.
I love being able to create things & am always so honoured when I get an e-mail or hear that someone has a piece of art I made,
or loves to read a book I illustrated to their little one before bed.  
I feel very grateful that I get to do what I love & to know that there
is an audience for that.


8. You create designs for baby, kids, stationery, scrapbooking, etc whats your favourite area to design for and why?
I wouldn't say I have a favourite.  
What I do know is that I love building a collection of art that dances around one another.
I like building a world, once I crack that code I can spin it in a 100 different ways.  
So whether that happens to be a book, a fabric collection,
bedding, a stationary offering it doesn't matter to me it's the building of a big idea that lives in lots of different ways that gets me really excited!


9. Away from etsy... you founded Jill McDonald Design in 2004. 
How has the design industry changed over those 10 years, and how do you feel your work has moved on/changed in this time?

When I began in 2004, buyers would purchase art because they liked it sometimes without a specific spot in mind- they just loved the piece. (bigger budgets)
Now buyers are much more selective, they'll need a specific spot for the art in their line, they'll need it to be a specific number of colors, the price is much more sensitive than it use to be.  
Over all now the buyers budget has shrunk for the most part, I think there are less in house designers to make changes that use to not be an issue.  
Another change I've noticed from 10 years ago is that there a way more designers.  
Which provides a bigger pool to pick from.

At the beginning we- (did I mention my sweet husband works with me) decided to sell outright.  I knew I needed to make a living & we weren't sure how all this would work.  Today I primarily license my art but having so much of it there are certain things that make sense to sell outright.  

Over time I have been given more opportunities to create collections & I now have my own gift line for kids produced by C.R. Gibson so that's been a dream come true!!!




10. What are your top three blogs?

How about podcasts instead?  
I like...
1. Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me (NPR) 
2. WTF with Marc Maron (I think the struggle of a comedian & a freelance artist are quite similar) 
3. Freakonomics

Looking at blogs doesn't put my head in the right place.  
Can leave me second guessing myself -So I don't.



Thanks to Jill for letting us into her world.
You can follow what Jill's up to here...

(all images above are copyright of Jill McDonald)

x x x


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