Bringing Home the Yarn

I know when I was getting started designing professionally, I always wondered how many designs a designer created a month. How many "qualified" you as a professional?

I feel like I can now answer that with some authority and that makes me smile. My answer is that there is no number that qualifies you as a professional. Your work quality (not quantity) qualifies you as a professional. And between professionals some may only do one design a month while others do 30. That answer used to frustrate me, being the engineer I am. I need numbers and steps and directions on how to be a professional. Now though, I smile, which signals to me that I really must be becoming more designer then engineer.

Still, if you are wondering how many I create a month, all I can say is it totally varies on my mood and opportunities. For instance, this month I have at least one design, if not two, due every Friday. That regular of a schedule is totally odd for me, but I love the schedule.

Why? Well that means that every Wednesday or Thursday I get to ship off a project and effectively get to start the weekend early. Granted by Saturday morning I'll be knee deep in the next design, but that joy of clearing another project off my list will stay around at least through Friday. And who doesn't like starting off a Friday on a good note?

What are those projects? Well, I have 2 garments for magazines, 3 accessories for a magazine, 2 accessories for a book contribution, and 1 garment for my pattern line. At one point I would have wanted to bury my head, but now I am totally exhilarated to have all the work and not look at this schedule as anything other then fun. I also know next month I have a similar amount of work with 3 garments, 2 accessories, and classes to prepare; but again that just makes me smile.

Smile? I am I crazy? Not really. I am realistic. I do know that I work partly fulltime (or is that fully parttime) as an engineer (between 30-40 hrs a week), so I can not take on more then I can handle since I can not do an all nighter and still design buildings the next day. I fill my schedule and then pass on projects that I just can't fit in. I also learned not to jump head long into any crazy deadline or new assignment without pausing and thinking if I really can do it. A wise friend told me that growing slowly is growing smartly when designing parttime. So for me I try to add one new client (magazine or yarn company) a year, and not worry too much if I do or don't. That advise has really served me well, and looking back at all the work I have been able to do I totally attribute that wise saying to her.

What I am trying to say is... I know it can really be a challenge to get started designing. But whatever you do, don't worry about how much you are designing. Look at the quality. Once you have that settled, then start looking for opportunities to grow. I feel like I am still learning what it means to be a professional, but one thing I know is that even if I designed nothing this month I would still be a Professional Structural Crochet Engineer.


Cara said...

Very good advice about growing slowly and focusing on quality! It's funny, from the title and the picture, I was expecting you to say that you knew you were a professional when the free yarn started showing up!

YarnThing said...

That's it, I am going to have to join the CGOA and let you start to help me "develop professionally" ;-)


SAM said...

I have to smile at this - you answered so many of the questions I had about design. I still get dizzy at the number of projects you can do. With my revelation about my personal niche I feel free to design accessories and I will take your slow and steady advice.

Robyn said...

Hee hee, yes Cara that's true. Getting yarn sent to me does go a long way to making me feel like a designer too.

To be totally honest, this post is really for me. I really need to post the "growing slowly" mantra on my computer. Sometimes I just get so excited at new design opportunities I forget that I need time to dedicate for the one I'm working on. I'm still learning how to be a good professional too. I think it's really a lifelong education.

doraoh said...

Great post Robyn! Finding the right pace to grow is a challenge for all of us. But I envy your ability to do both speed AND quality. You go girl! Dora