Designer Diaries: Ellen Evered

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

Hi, I'm Ellen and I create pretty patterns for greeting cards, textiles, household items, and stationery. Drawing on my 10+ years of experience in the packaging design industry, I combine my familiarity with product and brand development with my love of pattern and color.

Coming from a family of avid gardeners, I grew up amidst flowers and plants. Although I do not share their green thumb, I am inspired by my natural surroundings, creating patterns of hand drawn lyrical line work and evocative colors. I take my designs and apply them to a variety of items. With my products, I aim to bring a little bouquet of happiness into your home!

When did you discover your passion?

I have always been drawn to the creative arts. My favorite pass time as a child was drawing and painting. In a high school co-op program, I discovered that I could actually make a living being an artist as a graphic designer (!!!). That really started it all. I attended the Ontario College of Art and Design and graduated from the Graphic Design program. For the past 12 years I've worked as a graphic designer. Over the last few years I've become obsessed with patterns. So about 2 years ago I enrolled in Rachael Taylor's Make It In Design surface pattern course and I was hooked!

What made you turn your passion into a career choice versus just a hobby?

Since graduating from art college, I've worked professionally as a packaging designer. I really love my job, but there are creative limitations due to the nature of the field. My pattern design work began as a way to express my personal esthetic and design 'pretty' things, mostly as a hobby. When I received a lot of positive feedback and encouragement from family, friends and colleagues, I decided to take the next step and start applying my designs to a variety of products. I recently launched my first line of greeting cards.

How do you stay motivated?

With lots of coffee, ha! Honestly, I don't usually have difficulty with motivation. My problem is when I think that things are getting too easy and static. I like being busy and taking on new challenges. Sometimes I take on too much, but with two small children, I've learned to survive on very little sleep!

Can you share a little about your design process?

My patterns are all based on my drawings, so I'm constantly sketching. I find inspiration in my daily life - the blooming forsythia bush on my front lawn, the silhouette of a branch against the sky, the leaves of a gingko tree I pass on my way to work. I bring these drawings into Illustrator using Image Trace. I clean them up a bit, but my style is very much characterized by the line work in my sketches. My colour palettes are based on the subject matter, sometimes tweaked using insight from colour trend reports that I try to stay on top of.

What is your favorite part about having a creative business?

I like having complete control over my creative direction. As a packaging designer, my designs need to meet legal and regulatory requirements, and pass through various levels of marketing management. The final product can sometimes look a lot different than the initial concept. With my pattern work, I get the final say at every stage. Being a bit of a perfectionist, I also like being able to ensure the quality of my final product. 

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career and how have you overcome them?

Lack of time and life balance are probably my biggest challenges. I have a 4 year old son and a 14 month old daughter. I work a full-time job and commute 2+ hours everyday. So saying "I'm busy" is a bit of an understatement. I try to take advantage of any free time I have by being productive in some way. Unfortunately that means I haven't read a book or watched a movie in very long time! I fit in sketching when I'm on the train to work or while my daughter naps. When the kids are in bed and the household chores are complete, I design, assemble greeting cards and pack orders, or read trend reports. It definitely makes the days go by fast!

 What advice would you give to aspiring designers looking to build a successful creative business?

Develop your personal style. Research what is out there and find a niche that your unique style can fill. It's great to gain inspiration from all the accomplished artists out there, but I think it's important to set yourself apart to be successful. 


Whats next for your career?

This spring I launched a line of greeting cards available on Etsy and for wholesale. I have a line of patterned home wares in the works. I've been accepted to my first two juried arts and crafts fairs, where I will have a booth with my cards and home wares for sale. I hope to expand my list of stockists and will keep pursuing licensing opportunities.

Where can we find you on the web?

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