Happy Monday! I’m so excited to kick off this week with the incredible duo from the Variety Show. Amber and Michael are definitely a pair to keep an eye on, their work is so good. Based out of southern California they also have an incredible online shop filled with tons of great designed prints(I’ve been eyeing these two). Check out their shop here and read more about the talented duo below:
Tell us a little about yourself:
Hello everyone! My name is Amber and I started a little online shop called Variety Show with my husband. This little double act combines my graphic design with his illustration to create quality printed goods for the home. We met in college back in 2010 and have dreamt of collaborating on a business since then. We finally made it happen about a year ago in June 2014 and we’re exciting to keep building it up!
Describe your path to becoming a designer:
I was always interested in communicating visually. In high school it came to life even more as I would create mixed media collages with pictures and typography. From there I studied graphic design and soaked up as much as I could in college. I owe a lot to my professors who saw potential in me and pushed me to a point that I could never have done on my own.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
We both have full-time jobs and work on our shop on the side. It’s definitely a struggle to find time for it and that usually happens on the weekends. Throughout the week we’ll think up ideas and when anything comes to us we usually write it down or send each other a sample shot of our idea. Then when the weekend comes along, we’ll get to work and try to hash out as much as we can. And then, of course all correspondence and fulfillment happens throughout the week as well.
How did you prepare yourself to jump in and start your own business?
It started with a lot of googling at first (don’t judge), and then I eventually took an online course on atly.com to figure out wholesale, because no matter how much I googled that topic, it was so scarce. There was a lot of prep work that went into the website, product making/printing, and photographing, so that took about 3 months before we could even open our shop.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
When we see pictures of our prints in other homes. That part is a fulfilling end to the hard work we put into the quality of our products. We try our best to curate our work as much as possible and when we finally find the right design and see that in a beautiful space, it all comes together for us.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced working for yourself?
I always have to remind myself that nobody is going to do it for me. In an agency world you only have to worry about one part of the process, but when you have to do everything yourself, it’s a lot to learn. Another struggle with that is how long it takes to get things done. I’m learning the hard way that you can’t just design and quickly turn around a product. It takes a lot of push and pull with printers to get it right and at a price that’s affordable for our audience.
Who is inspiring you at the moment?
From the very start of this business my main source of inspiration has been Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. I had the rare opportunity to work with her on a side project and it opened my eyes to the amazing business she has going. It was then that I realized I wanted her job. I wanted to create thoughtful paper goods to sell to others and someday I hope to be able to do it full-time.
Any advice you would give to someone wanting to be a designer?
Study the history of design. That alone will set you apart from hundreds of designers today who only duplicate what’s current. When you know the foundation of where it all came from, your explorations can go beyond what we see today.