Today I’m excited to share with you the work of Anne Passchier, a surface pattern designer who lives in Cleveland, Ohio.
Anne is a gift wrap designer by day and a freelance children’s book illustrator by night. In this interview, they share with us what it has been like juggling a day job with multiple side projects and offer advice to folks who are in the same position.
I hope you enjoy this interview…I know you will love seeing Anne’s whimsical illustrations!
Please tell us a little bit about your background as an artist and how you got into surface pattern design.
I grew up around my mom and grandma constantly quilting and crafting, and the house was always full of the coolest and most colorful fabrics. I found out rather quickly that I was no good at sewing, and instead I took up drawing at a young age.
In art school I discovered the world of surface design, where I could combine my passion for art, color and pattern all into one. I liked the possibility of designing not just fabric but a wide variety of patterned products!
How would you describe your signature style?
It took me quite a while to figure out what my style was, but it all came together when I took up printmaking as a discipline next to illustration.
I love relief printing (linoleum and wood cuts specifically) and think the graphic, colorful shapes combined with the subtle texture of the process really made my style what it is today. I found a way to somewhat digitally replicate the handmade feeling I liked so much about the prints, and began to simplify my drawings and color palettes to make the bold shapes stand out.
Although I’ve definitely found a distinct style, my work is ever evolving, and each year that I keep working I continue to see differences and progress in my drawings.
Where do you find inspiration? What do you do when you get stuck?
I love looking at mid-century illustrations, the graphic shapes and colors are lovely and always give me tons of inspiration. I also grew up looking at Dutch illustrators such as Dick Bruna and Fiep Westendorp, and to this day I enjoy having their books around the house.
Working in both children’s books and surface design really gives my work day a lot of variety; when I’m stuck in one, I can switch to the other and vice versa! Combining the two also really helps me creatively. Often I set the mood for a new pattern collection while working on a big illustration, or get an idea for a new project while drawing elements for patterns.
What are some challenges you’ve faced so far as a designer?
Finding and organizing my time so that I can to tackle all of my projects has definitely been a challenge! I have such a variety of interests, that sometimes I get carried away coming up with new ideas and ventures I want to work on. I’ve found that I need to schedule my days and evenings pretty rigorously to stay on track. Fortunately, the work is so fun it never feels like a chore, and I feel very lucky to be able to design for a living.
And you have a full-time job! What is it like juggling your job with side projects?
I love so many different areas of the art world, I don’t think I could ever NOT have side projects! Some days are harder than others, especially if I’ve had a long day at work followed by a lot of side project deadlines at home. However, I try to take on a manageable amount of freelance work so I don’t get worn out.
The bottom line is I’m doing it for fun and because I love to illustrate, so I want to make sure I can invest the right amount of time and attention into each project I do. Time management and scheduling are very important and I have a big paper planner always by my side. For some reason, writing out deadlines and to-do lists by hand has always worked better for me. Because of this my work area is covered in lists!
Is it hard to switch your brain off of work and focus on side projects?
It definitely can be sometimes! I have to remember that it’s important to take time for yourself and pursue your own artistic interests. I also remind myself that any project I work on for fun can be added to my portfolio and potentially lead to new opportunities!
What advice would you give to folks who are working full-time but hope to start their own creative side business?
I would tell someone to not be afraid to get help. Hire a good accountant, find an agent that can help you get work. Do anything to make it easier for you to focus on what’s most important: the art!
Also, remind yourself that it is okay to say no to projects when you feel like you’re taking on too much. The key is time management, but also knowing what your limits are and making sure you keep having fun and not overloading yourself.
Can you tell us about your children’s book illustrations? How did you get into that?
I got an agent! I always knew I wanted to do book illustrations as well as surface design. Since I was getting my fill of surface design at my day job and with my personal work, I decided to contact Bright Agency and see if they wanted to represent me. They said yes and ever since I’ve been getting my book assignments through them! It’s really fun and a HUGE help. Working a full-time job I don’t really have the time to do the amount of promotion necessary to establish relationships with publishers, so it’s amazing to have somebody do that part for you.
What advice can you give others who interested in surface pattern design?
E-mail other designers you look up to and talk to them! Every time I’ve plucked up the courage to do so, the conversations have always been really positive. And fellow artists are such a good source of encouragement and advice. We all know what it’s like to feel stuck sometimes. And sometimes you just need to say hi to somebody because you think the way they draw animals is really cute.
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