I often get asked on Instagram how I started my business, And that question is not entirely easy to answer with a few lines on Instagram, how it all went from drawing at the kitchen table to actually becoming not only one but several products, which have since become a company.
But now that I have a blog, I can write a little more about how it started for me.Everyone has to go their own way, but it's never wrong to get inspiration from others, so here we go!
When I started with art, I probably didn't have a realistic idea that it would become my profession.After all, I went to an art school mainly as a slow rehabilitation after a head injury.And also there was this idea that I needed to find a way to make a living that was based on being in control of my own time because of all the recurring migraine attacks and other health crap that made me pretty much impossible at a 9-5 work, so it was probably the case that I mostly played in the beginning.Sure, I got some illustration assignments for a few magazines, but it still didn't feel like this was my profession.
The fact that I didn't take myself too seriously made my expression, or manner, quite playful.I drew based on what I felt like drawing.And apart from the illustration assignments, where I was more guided by the content of the texts, it was mostly drawings that were piled up here at home.What eventually became the basis of my first exhibition, and which then developed into my "style", were drawings - I usually call them advanced phone doodles - that I made while sitting on the TV couch when I was pregnant and couldn't stand and paint like we mostly did at art school.My "mission" was to fill a piece of paper with lines and squiggles, a bit like mandala drawings.Eventually the papers and blocks got bigger and the patterns more advanced.And then I realized that it was actually possible to color my flower and insect drawings, so there was a little more variety.And suddenly I had so many drawings that it was possible to make an exhibition.
Advice number 1:
I think my first and most important "advice" to those of you who want to design, make patterns or illustrate is to follow your passion and your heart.Don't look outward so much when you start creating.And at first, don't be too hard on yourself.
From idea to finished product
At the art school, we had a few weeks' course in pattern reporting.That is, how to technically build up an image so that it can be repeated ad infinitum.Something that you must know if you want to make fabrics or wallpaper.So at my first exhibition, in addition to the drawings, I showed some reported designs that I printed on fabric.And since I received many positive comments on the patterns, a small idea was born that perhaps you could make patterns and try to sell them.So me and my partner Lars (who helps me with a lot of practical things) decided to print some of my drawings and patterns and exhibit at the design fair Formex.
It was not so easy to know how to proceed.Who to contact, which companies did what, but all you had to do was ask around and we did that when we were visitors to Formex for the first time.Some clearly showed that they absolutely did not want to share advice and contacts.Luckily, we still got some tips so we had something to start with.We got in touch with a company on Öland (Formpress) that printed trays, and the company that printed the fabrics for the exhibition (Tobex in Borås) had to print a little more so that we could ask a seamstress to sew some cushions from the fabrics.It was such a big and solemn feeling the first time I rolled out the first meters of fabric and unwrapped the first sample tray so you have no idea.And still, Formpress and Tobex are my most important suppliers.
Advice number 2:
So my second piece of advice is to bring out a product, like a tray or fabric, or whatever you want to put your design on.The reason for that is that a pattern takes on a completely different expression on a real product than when it is only displayed on a piece of paper or in the computer.And thanks to digital printing technology, printing your own design on products is not an prohibitive cost either.
Exhibiting at the Formex fair was my first real step in reaching out to retailers and it was big and scary.Above all, it was quite expensive to rent booth space.But we thought that you have to dare to take a chance.Four black and white drawings and then the pattern Bugs & Butterflies in four color schemes.So five motifs that we printed on fabric and trays in different sizes.That's all.But the response was good, what I brought was something new, and we already got several dealers at the first fair.And that made us actually dare to believe in this with "Nadja Wedin design".After the fair, my partner Lars (I'm useless at such things myself) called a few stores that hadn't visited our small stand and asked if he could come and show our product samples "because we had such success at the fair" he added .
Advice number 3:
So my third piece of advice is to contact retailers or those you want to collaborate with and try to book a meeting to show off your design.
“You have to be a little lucky”
In a way, it's still quite surreal that I actually have this as my profession now.To draw! What I've done since I was a child just to have fun and now I can partially support myself from it.I know that it is rare and that it is tough to enter this industry.Because it's not just about having a nice pattern, or being good at drawing.You have to have a bit of luck, a good backup from home and then you just have to have ice in your stomach and dare to invest both money and, above all, energy.
It doesn't happen overnight, but if you can't be seen, you don't exist.And thanks to my continuing to exhibit at Formex, some "scouts" from Hemtex saw my designs there, I think it was after four fairs.Which in turn led to a collaboration that has now lasted four years.Just a few weeks ago, the new pattern "Willow" was launched at Hemtex and here you can see the tray and mug that are out in stores right now.