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Blog

Around here lately.

Paula Lukey

Hello!

Long time no talkie. I may have gotten a bit caught up in figuring out the year ahead that I lost track of time. And here we are in February already! How is life going for you?

For me, there has been a lot of activity. I officially closed my studio in Mirvish Village in December. It was a bittersweet good bye. My 2 'closing out' studio sales that I had turned out better than imagined, moving out was actually a breeze, and setting up my home studio was even easier! I was very fortunate that we have a nice sized spare bedroom in our home, so placing my chunky screen printing equipment wasn't so bad after all. Slowly but surely I was able to bring a bit of my style in the funny looking room - it is far from perfect, but i feel blessed to have a cost effective space that allows me to practice my craft and realize my dreams.

My growing area of screen printing frames.

My growing area of screen printing frames.

As for the work I have been doing? Well, 2017 is all about stepping it up. I learned SO much about my business last year - with attending Etsy Open Call I really wanted to up my Wholesale product game as well as begin to develop a more cohesive line of products using my original designs. Last year I had so many products going in many directions, and it was starting to become chaotic. So I decided (and this was a HUGE decision!) to practice and continue working more hours as a Screen Printer. With that responsibility comes a lot of pressure! I decided that I would MAKE 75% of my screen print frames and expose them at home - but as always, continue printing all my own work at home (and sewing), too. So yeah, a lot of work!

One of my screens I made called Eco Drops!

One of my screens I made called Eco Drops!

Stretching screens isn't an easy task. It's a lot of muscle work... But none the less, I persisted! I'm still developing more designs as i write this, but for now I have a fairly decent number of designs that are done and I have started testing my own colour palette for the year.

My wall montage of fashionistas with bold and graphic colour!

My wall montage of fashionistas with bold and graphic colour!

With developing a colour palette, comes time for research. I love getting inspired by fashion magazines! I'll pull a bunch of images together and place them on my wall which really feeds my creativity while I am working and ruminating the best choices for my products.

It all starts with mixing the inks.

It all starts with mixing the inks.

I also re-discovered through this process how much a LOVE black and white (contrast) and bright colour. So in order to fulfill both the minimalist in me AND the colour fanatic, I decided i would do products that are both in black and white (and black and gold BTW!) for fall/winter and also a spring/summer collection of brights! It's still taking me a bit of time to get them all sorted, so I created a list on my wall of every new product and which colours would go best:

creating a list of new designs and products is essential for my sanity :-)

creating a list of new designs and products is essential for my sanity :-)

There is also the desire I have this year to expand my graphic look and style by offering designs that not only feed the nature-lover in me (like my succulents and cactus designs!) but also feed (where it all started)the graphic designer in me! With bold shapes that are playful yet sophisticated, and still feel hand made. Like my Linear Shapes Pouch.

My new line of Linear Shapes pouches! So graphic, so stylish :-)

My new line of Linear Shapes pouches! So graphic, so stylish :-)

And there is the plant lover in me that just can NOT get enough of Cactus! I must have more :-) Like my Pink Saguaro Tea Towel:

My new Saguaro Cactus Tea Towel. So Pink, so FUN!

My new Saguaro Cactus Tea Towel. So Pink, so FUN!

For me this year is all about honing in on my style and personality and offering this up for all the world to experience in their every day lives. There are a few new surprise products I am working on, too. And I can't wait to share that with you as well. But for now, here is a snippet of some of my new colours I am producing on some tea towels. See? It's coming together isn't it? xo

 

 

Etsy Open Call

Paula Lukey

What a wonderful experience to have been selected as one of the Finalists for Etsy Open Call in Brooklyn, New York! I only received the invite a month before the actual event (Etsy's wholesale side of their business, where they invite 35 finalists out of 1400 applicants to pitch to U.S. retailers) - so you could imagine what was going through my mind in terms of preparing for it. I recall applying for it in June - but simply tossed the idea of even getting selected to the side - I was already preparing designs and products for the 2017 season, thinking I was moving on. But fortunately for me, Etsy gave me a chance to come and see what the world of Wholesaling was all about!

Walking Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan the first day.

Walking Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan the first day.

The first day I arrived I checked into my hotel in Brooklyn. I  had a couple hours to burn so I went into Manhattan to check out the NY NOW trade show of product designers. So many interesting brands of products! Textile designers (like me!) and full fledged businesses of paper companies and lifestyle brands such as Printed Village - which I sometimes work with and licensing my pattern designs to.

at the Printed Village booth posing with my dog pattern tote bag!

at the Printed Village booth posing with my dog pattern tote bag!

The next day it was time to set up my table at Etsy Headquarters. What an awsome space! I had so much fun, and was welcomed by the warm Etsy staff and other sellers there.

The space we set our tables up in for Open Call (that's mine behind me!)

The space we set our tables up in for Open Call (that's mine behind me!)

The first day was workshops related to Wholesaling and pitching your line. I was already nervous, but it was good to get some educational notes as to how to start going about the process, knowing that there are resources to guide you. In the afternoon we got a tour of Etsy Headquarters - but the best part for me was the view on their roof top. I adore city scapes!

The view of Manhattan from Etsy HQ in Brooklyn

The view of Manhattan from Etsy HQ in Brooklyn

That night I can attest that I did not sleep so well. I was nervous about the pitches and speaking with major retailers such as Macy's and Wholefoods. Regardless, it is what it is - and you just have to do your best.

Do I look nervous?? My friend Samantha from Infinite Abyss took this pic of me and my wares!

Do I look nervous?? My friend Samantha from Infinite Abyss took this pic of me and my wares!

I was all ready to go and proud of my line of goods to present. The pitching went very, VERY quickly! We only had 3-4 minutes to discuss and show our line to 5 major retailers. They were looking for very specific things from what I understood. And what I learned was buyers are different in what they see than consumers are - and how they can envision your product in their stores. I got some quick but good feedback from Macy's and HGTV in particular - in terms of the visuals and brand presentation of my line and how it really needs to speak volumes on your behalf (especially when you are not there). Though things happened so quickly I was thankful for the experience and gained some knowledge - not only on my brand but how I can eventually grow my line in the future to suit buyers as well as get better media exposure. 

The afternoon was a lot more relaxed - it was a Buyers' Party - where hundreds of US retailers walked through, browsed your product line, and either did up an order or took your card for orders later. This part was a hit! I had so much fun and really felt the interaction was a lot more relaxed and conversational. And I think this is really how I envision my relationship with retailers going forward. And it helps that they were serving beer and had a super fun band playing live :-)

A closer look at my table set up

A closer look at my table set up

All in all, I am so proud to have been selected out of so many applicants. I may not have gotten a Golden Purchase Order from the 5 retailers at the pitch session, but I received other wholesale orders at the Buyers Party and more potentially on the way!  Mostly though, I gained so much in terms of producing and showcasing a product line! I still have so much to learn in the wholesale sector - but I am glad I took the chance! And the sellers I had the chance to meet were just so amazing! Like Casey of Hearth and Harrow, Samantha of Infinite Abyss, and Megan of the Invisible Kitten just to name afew! (Read this article to see all the sellers)

On a closing note, It's not easy to put yourself out there, to take the risk of showing up and presenting an authentic part of you. And honestly, I really pour my heart into everything I do in my life - and this is one part that truly is an extension of me as an artist and maker. I love what I do (I sometimes joke that i am a "Design-Lifer" but it's true!) and everything to me is an experience and an opportunity for growth. This experience was no exception. 

Onwards and upwards!

(Click here to shop my line on Etsy Wholesale).
*You must register as a buyer to view this line sheet.

 

 

Ostrich Ottoman

Paula Lukey

Recently I did a small project for our home - taking an old, white, faded, cotton canvas ottoman cover and transforming it into a blue cover with a tossed ostrich pattern!

How did I do it? Well, here are a few steps in how I turned it into something original:

1. Dyeing and drying the fabric
I purchased some MX Procion Dye from my local screen printing shop, placed the fabric in the dye mix and stirred for 30 minutes.

the old ottoman cover

the old ottoman cover

mixing the dye in my stainless steel sink basin

mixing the dye in my stainless steel sink basin

Hanging the fabric to dry

Hanging the fabric to dry

2. Setting up the Tools and Space.
This video captures some of the steps I take to set up my screen printing and area.

3. Silkscreening the Ottoman
So once I chose the "Ostrich" (as my bird of choice to print) this video shows a sample of how I create a 'tossed pattern' - much like block printing, but using a silk screen.  

4. The final with an all-over Tossed Pattern!
Here is a quick video of the cover, now back on the Ottoman. I am pretty happy with the result! The thing about silkscreening for me is that it can be whatver you want it to be - there really is no limit - to colour, type of fabrics, etc. And mistakes are ok! Doing an organic print like this just makes it fun with little stress.

time to kick back and enjoy a cool beverage!

time to kick back and enjoy a cool beverage!

Facebook Live Sale

Paula Lukey

For the first time (ever!) I will be using Facebook Live to start a small sales event of some of my products. This Saturday I will be showcasing, discussing, and putting on SALE a few of my hand silkscreened tea towels!

The reason I am doing this is to get customers more familiar with my product and process. Showing them on video will be a great way to connect and talk a little about the story behind them. I will admit I am a bit nervous by it all, but I have to start somewhere! So go easy on me, lol!

You can tune in at 11am Eastern Standard Time here: Paula Lukey Design on Facebook

I will have a link to the items for sale on my website. See you then!

San Francisco Memories

Paula Lukey

Photo of me taken at Mount Tam by Lori Wiscombe

Photo of me taken at Mount Tam by Lori Wiscombe

For me, going back to San Francisco was, well.... quite an emotional vacation! I used to live and work there some time ago as a graphic designer for Wired Magazine. Even though it was only for a 2 year period in my life it made an impression that I keep with me to this day. Whether it be the bay, the breeze, the fog, the art, the vegetation, the people, etc. it's a place that really encompasses so many wonderful things.

I used to live in the Mission District in a small flat I shared with 2 other people. There are many things I loved (and did not love so much!) about this area - but when I came back to retrace my steps - nostalgia kicked in and it was really about the positive memories. I think as you get older and gain perspective on your life, you're more inclined to look for the positive within something rather than get stuck only on the negative. Life really is short and your journeys and experiences really need to be cherished.

The building I lived in on Dolores Street!

The building I lived in on Dolores Street!

Walking around and catching glimpses of what I used to know was something special. Even sitting on the stoop of my old building was fun. Down the street a block over was/is Dolores Park - and I really wanted to sit up there, take in the city and do a little sketching. For me, sometimes sketching is the best way to experience and remember a place!

View and my sketchbook from atop of Dolores Park.

View and my sketchbook from atop of Dolores Park.

What really makes the Mission District great (aside from all the many awsome Taquerias and coffee shops) is the street art. I was and still am a sucker for exploring and finding art. So a walk through Clarion Alley and other random streets was on my list of to-do's. You will always bear witness to political statements coupled with pure street art on walls of buildings. To me, this really defines the beauty and reality of a place like San Francisco.

Clarion Alley (left) and bits from it as well as the streets if the mission area (right)

Clarion Alley (left) and bits from it as well as the streets if the mission area (right)

More from Clarion Alley - art, pattern, and political action.

More from Clarion Alley - art, pattern, and political action.

Beautiful street art compliments an adjoining storefront in Mission.

Beautiful street art compliments an adjoining storefront in Mission.

Clarion Alley road graffiti (left) and Portrero Hill wall art (right)

Clarion Alley road graffiti (left) and Portrero Hill wall art (right)

And then there is always the California foliage. And oh how it grows and grows here... it is so hard to explain - so taking pictures helps! Succulents, Banana Leaves, Fig Trees. Things that are familiar yet larger than life in this area. I have a deep respect for nature - so seeing all of these beautiful plants grow in every nook and cranny within a bustling and relatively cramped city was (and always will be) special to me.

sf-plant-1.jpg

There is always a great view within and outside the city to find and explore. One place that was always accessible for me was the view from Bernal Heights Park. Vast and all-encompassing...

Bernal Heights

Bernal Heights

I explored other areas like Yerba Beuna Gardens, SF MoMa, and the lovely Oakland. I feel like I ran out of time! But I am so glad that I took the trip back to the Bay Area.  

Yerba Beuna Gardens (a park I used to go to on my lunch breaks!)

Yerba Beuna Gardens (a park I used to go to on my lunch breaks!)

SF MoMa. Always fun to explore and act goofy in :-)

SF MoMa. Always fun to explore and act goofy in :-)

A banner in Temescal Alley (left) and the Fox Theatre in Oakland (right)

A banner in Temescal Alley (left) and the Fox Theatre in Oakland (right)

I was also surprised how many things that I thought would have changed so much really felt the same. I suppose that's a sign of being somewhere that feels like 'home'. 

The 100 Day Project

Paula Lukey

Often in my life I look to doing personal challenges to help enrich, inspire, and push my creative boundaries. This current challenge on instagram that I am doing ( #the100day project ) was something I decided to do based on my personal beliefs mentioned (and the fact that i love creating patterns!). 

It started out quite simply: utilize some of the many drawings and doodles I have captured in my sketchbook over the past while and create funky repeat patterns - then post them on instagram with a unique hashtag you can call your own ( mine being #100patternsbypaula )!

This challenge has really tested not only my creativity, but my diligence to keeping focused and organized. No matter what is happening in my life over the next 100 days since this project began, I must continue to draw, scan, create patterns, and post them on instagram. I also wanted to experiment with colour - using not just the colours I feel comfortable with but to also try pinks, pastels, and a bit of neutral with bright colours, etc etc.. 

I think it has really allowed me to just be... me! Working from the heart and experimenting with no restrictions is something most people desire in their every day lives. So this is why I am just having so much fun :-)

"It's okay to tone stuff down with pastels" I said to myself. And something I draw in my sketchbook that may look blah on paper as a single doodle - could turn into the funkiest and most incredible pattern! But one has to try.

This one above was the first one i started with. In black and white as a sketch it was okay, but then i started repeating it and adding colour - and suddenly it came alive!

So the moral of the story is to just begin.

Tell yourself you are going to do it, commit to it - and you will be surprised what can happen. That's really what pushed me to start. And now that I have this portfolio of patterns, I am visualizing a new line of products beginning to take shape :-)