May 8, 2009

Into the mind of creative geniuses...

Something that is still a struggle for me to grasp, even after almost 2 years of SC kits is the amount of work that goes into putting a kit out every month. I have a pretty good handle on the physical work....sorting, bagging, cutting trims, wrapping twine, etc....because I do most of that stuff....but the creative work, the background stuff that April, Scarlet and Stephen do each month is mind numbing. You get to see some of the evidence of the genius within each month when you unwrap your SC box of goodies, but what you don't see is the hours of pouring over color wheels, paper samples, buttons, trim samples, paper proofs, stamp designs and much, much more. SC is truly a labor of love for these guys and I think that you will agree with me when I say that it shows every month!

I spent an hour with Stephen recently and asked him several questions about his creative drive, what inspires him personally, where he see SC in the future. Check out his answers below:

1. How did you get involved with Studio Calico?

Great question. The first time I met April was a right before Hannah and I got married. April was an old friend of Hannah's and was a bridesmaid in our wedding. Randomly, several months later, I got a call from April which went something like: "Hello, we need a website in a month." A month is an insane turnaround in the web world ... especially for a website as complex as SC needed. On top of that, they didn't have a name or a brand. After a few phone conversations and a meeting ... we settled on the name "Studio Calico". We basically worked on the logo and the website in unison trying to get something online as soon as possible. It was a long month.

2. What inspires your unique designs?

'Unique' is usually the goal. But that can mean anything from totally original to a new twist on a vintage image. I am inspired by antique malls, thrift stores, forgotten signage, the Victorian era, old book covers, Bauhaus furniture, Kentucky barns, patterns, anything letterpress, and about a million other things like going to CHA. Sometimes I reference other designers (both in and out of the scrapbooking world).

3. How has your role with Studio Calico evolved over the past 18 months?

Oh dear. In a lot of ways ... it hasn't changed at all. Since day one I've been designing everything ... brand, web, promos, papers, stamps, newsletters etc. In addition to design, I've been giving marketing direction and advice about when we should introduce new things at SC (this is a group effort). The thing that continues to evolve is the volume of work. In the beginning I was able handle all of SC's needs in the hours after my full-time advertising agency job ... since then, I have quit that job (hallelujah!) and started my own company, Stephen Lee Ogden Design. My main client is of course Studio Calico.

4. Where do you see Studio Calico going in the future?

I don't know if I'm qualified to answer this question. I've gotten it wrong before. See, I had faith SC could be a competitive kit club ... I didn't imagine they would go from nothing to what they are today in such a short amount of time. That growth is evidence of April and Greg's business drive and a "Why Wait?" mentality. That mixed with a little luck has made for a strong company. The future? I would say SC has and will continue to evolve into a unique manufacturer and very social community. That means continuing to stay innovative and always try new things. SC is going exactly where our customers are willing to take us.

5. If you could expand Studio Calico in a new creative direction, where would you go?
I would love to go head to head with Vera Bradley and Amy Butler. Not to say our designs are better than theirs are ... I'm just interested in expanding the items our patterns are printed on. I'd like to get more life out of the designs and stretch them across other crafty industries.

6. What is your favorite color?

That's like asking a mother of 4 which child is her favorite. I'm an equal opportunity color theorist. I even had a magenta razor cell phone for a few years.

7. Walk me through the process of creating an original Studio Calico paper.

The process is evolving. April and Scarlet usually gather kit items for coming months and leave holes for SC products like paper, FabRips, and stamps. Sometimes they will send me a list of paper ideas and sometimes we'll sit around and brainstorm together. The goal has been to match the kit by complimenting the other products. After I've got brainstorming notes, I hammer out the 'easiest' papers first. The more complicated papers (like the dress patterns) take a lot longer to figure out. We have to gather resource images and make sure they work together. Sometimes I get it right the first time and sometimes it takes 2-3 tries. April and Scarlet give good direction making sure what I design is useful to scrapbookers. The last step is color. We typically color match other items so we know they will match. Then it's off to press.

8. What is your all time favorite design that you have created for Studio Calico?

Wow. ummmm. tuff question. I'm going to say the original Scrapbook Trends ad. But not by far ... it just stands out because it was something new and it came together nicely. I really enjoy the promos and the papers as well. I have several favorites.
Here it is in case you missed it:

9. What is the most rewarding part of being a designer?
Money. J/K although it makes it possible. I really enjoy the process and the gratification of a finished print job. I also love meeting new people who have careers in totally different industries. Every time I meet a new client, I get to step into their world and get my feet wet just enough to know ... I have the best job ever

10. What is the hardest part about working with April and Scarlet?

Hmm. April sometimes has issues visualizing without a visual. As in, I'll describe an idea and she doesn't get it. Scarlet is a creative philosopher and likes to think long and hard before she shares her ideas. That mixed with April and I going 100mph can make brainstorming interesting. I will say, I've worked with lots of people over the years and April and Scarlet are very easy to work with. I like working as a team sharing our ideas and making changes based on what's best for the customers and not our job titles.

I told you some of the background of creating the brand and website in yesterday's post, but I had a couple more things to share that I thought you might like. Again, during my conversation with Stephen we talked about his love for antique stores. As a matter of fact, he is a self proclaimed historian of design...or in April's words....he's a packrat! He shared one of his favorite images with me. It is the photo of the little girl that was used as a visual on the Studio Calico domain while the website was under construction. Some of you have been around that long and may remember, but just in case you missed it.....

Stephen said that he picked that picture up out of a pile of stuff in an antique store several years ago. For some reason it just spoke to him....he loved the clean lines and artistic flow of the picture. As you can see, his little find ended up giving us a sneak peak to what Studio Calico would become. I have to tell you, the first time I saw that picture the other day, my first thought was...."That looks just like Stephanie's little Harper!"
OK - that is all you get tonight....but stay tuned tomorrow....I'm going to give you a little more history and then some interviews with our fabulous design team. They had some really interesting things to say about their first impressions of Studio Calico......


Kathy said...

Thankyou again Lori for a further insight. I agree the behind the scenes energy is evident in the truly amazing kits we receive each month.
Looking forward to the next installment and DT interviews.

Emily Pitts said...

totally cool!

april said...'s so fun to reminisce.

Jenn O said...

Lorie! I love your blog posts! You ask just the right should be a reporter! :) Thanks for the history and insider info!!

Anonymous said...

These posts are so interesting!! I have to has been a great posting week at SC!!!

*reyanna klein* said...

I am LOVING these posts!! So fun... and fascinating. I love learning more about SC and how it came to be. :)