On the Sofa with Kelly Whiteside

Since launching Design by KEW, I’ve had quite a few like-minded creative people ask questions about what it takes to start a successful prints business. It has been so humbling to hear that others are taking inspiration from our story and I think this lockdown has created a unique opportunity for the creative community to come together, support each other and kickstart their own ventures.

Take Cece, for example, who recently quit her job to become an artist – and no, it’s not an early mid-life crisis, it’s called having a dream!

So, in my first blog, I thought it would be a good idea to bring some of your questions together in one place and share my top tips to help bring your design ambitions to life.

Question: Do you print your artwork at home?

Currently, I don’t print at home but that will change in the short-term. When starting a prints business, you need to be lean and agile as there won’t be a regular stream of orders coming in to cover the large overhead costs e.g. professional printer, printer ink, paper stock, envelopes. So, unless you have the capital to cover the initial overheads, I think it is best to start with a professional external printer who can keep your costs under control and give you the flexibility you need, while guaranteeing print quality for your customers.

However, over the next few months, we will be investing in a quality printer as eventually we will need control over our stock, will need to print on-demand to meet demand, and it won’t be commercially viable to keep printing small volumes + delivery costs.

Question: What printer company do you use?

As a Graphic Designer with over 6 years’ experience, I’ve had the benefit of working with quite a few professional printers. There have been good ones, bad ones and indifferent ones so over time, I’ve been able to create my own preferred supplier’s list – those who can guarantee the print quality, deliver on-time and in full, meet our budget needs and standards for doing good for our planet.

As a starter for 10, I’m sharing two professional printers that I use on a regular basis, both at Design by KEW and at the ‘day job’. However, I’m more than happy to share a few other printers that I have used in the past so feel free to message me for further details.

If these don’t suit you, a simple Google search will provide you with a list of professional printers, internationally or regionally.

Question: Where do you source the images to present your work?

This is a good question.

At first, I took time to check through a tonne of free stock websites and sourced imagery that would put our prints in the best light. I look for bedroom, nursery and living room images that are clean, simple, have a white background, include a little greenery or a couple of props and most importantly, white space to add my print. From there, I use my Photoshop skills to edit, remove items and add frames for my print to achieve the overall look that I want for my brand on social and our website - you can see some of them on my Instagram page.

Of late, I have been creating my own shots at home. I think that stock imagery serves a purpose but you should try and refrain from using them all the time as they lack authenticity and can look a little catalogue like. It’s about getting a consistent mix that reflects your brand identity!

Free stock websites:

Licenced stock websites:

Question: Where do you find your inspiration?

Everyone is different but for me, without sounding too cliché, inspiration is everywhere. It can be something that sparks my imagination on Pinterest, brainstorming ideas with customers who want commission pieces, or simply from our family walks - our latest 'Wild Child' print was inspired by some the wild flowers we came across in the local woods combined with the temperament of my two little girls.

I have to say that I am most inspired by stepping away from the screen so my advice is always to keep your eyes peeled when you're out and about. 

If you have a question that hasn't be covered in this blog, don’t be afraid to email me at kelly@designbykew.com or DM me - I always do my best to help out.

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