Meet the Maker: Amanda Wright of Wit & Whistle

As part of my creative business journey, I have included another series on my blog. It’s called Meet the Maker and it’s where I share awesome stories from some of my favorite makers. This is to help inspire and motivate, but to also help promote the handmade community. I believe that if we all come together to support and promote each other, amazing things can happen.

And just by happenstance, the very first maker in my Meet the Maker series is the lovely Amanda Wright from Wit & Whistle. Not only does she have the best name in the world, she also prints on anything from pillowcases, hand towels, greeting cards, journals and more.

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Amanda, 29, graduated from the North Carolina State College of Design in 2006. There, she learned a valuable lesson: don’t give up if something doesn’t turn out right the first time.

Every project goes through many drafts before completion. Design is a process with many steps, and not all of those steps are nice to look at!

Ain’t that the truth.

After graduation, she got a job at a design firm and while she loved where she worked, she wasn’t allowed very much creative freedom. While she had a few clients that were more open-minded, others weren’t as cooperative, which is something she admits she didn’t learn about in design school.

They’ll slap a big ugly logo onto your beautiful design and ask you to rearrange your masterpiece until it’s unrecognizable. Each time that happened it was a painful stab to my creative spirit.

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

She started designing cards in her free time, under the name Spawn Studio. To her surprise, her card sales took off, and her husband Daniel encouraged her to quit the design firm and work on her greeting card business from home. It took a few months of him pushing her, but she finally made the leap in 2009.

While she’s not a fan of all the math involved with running your own business, she does appreciate the flexible hours.

I relish the freedom to work on what I want to, when I want to. After all, the creative urge doesn’t always strike between the hours of 9 and 5!

With more time to create when and what she wants, she keeps a running list of ideas in her head. Then when she is in a creative mood, she will pick from the list.

I do most designing in my sketchbook. Then, I scan my drawings into the computer and add color digitally. I started out printing, folding, and cutting all my products myself, but now I work with a local printer to produce most of my goods. That way I have more time to create!

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Making her own schedule allows her a few creative brain farts from time to time.

Sometimes there will be a multiple week stretch in which I wonder if there’s even a speck of creativity left in my body. Usually the cure is to step away and do something else for a while. I might repaint a room of the house, bake something, snap some photos, or come up with a DIY project for my blog. When I get back to designing, my brain fart has usually dissipated.

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Brain fart or not, Amanda is motivated by her desire to constantly improve. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, she is never completely satisfied with her work, which drives her to keep practicing.

It’s cliche, but I want to be the best I can possibly be. I want to make the most of this amazing opportunity to pursue my dreams.

A Regina Spektor fan, Amanda will sometimes listen to music while she is designing, but her studio time is usually spent listening to podcasts, like Relic Radio‘s rebroadcast of science fiction radio shows from the mid 1900s.

They’re cheesy in an endearing way. They always make predictions about the distant future (1997), and they’re always way off. (We are supposed to be living on Mars with robot slaves by now.)

Amanda would describe her work as “pretty with an unexpected touch of crassness,” and sometimes, the crass can be a little too unexpected, like she learned with her biggest card flop – a Mother’s Day card for new moms.

The front said something like “POP, CRACK, GROAN, SNAP, RIIIPPPP…” and the inside said “It’s a good thing you have nice birthing hips.”

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Always wanting to improve, Amanda is taking a crash course in Calligraphy with Molly Jacques on Skillshare. She is also working on spiral notebooks, her 2013 holiday line, notepad designs and even her Valentine’s Day cards. With all this going on, she admits she has a hard time relaxing.

Even when I’m watching TV I have my sketchbook in hand. My husband and I try to go on a big trip every year or so—preferably to someplace where I can get a new stamp in my passport. It’s nice to force myself out of my comfort zone and experience something totally new.

Amanda says that being a small business owner has taught her not to over-think it. She didn’t follow the normal process of writing up a business plan and getting everything figured out before setting up shop. She slowly started putting her work out there, and it has continued growing.

Maybe that’s not the smartest business advice, but it has worked pretty well for me. If I had tried to figure everything out in the beginning, I would’ve been overwhelmed and given up!

As if sharing her story was not enough, Amanda is also offering a 15% off your purchase at her store. Just click on the coupon below! If you want to learn more about her, you can connect with her on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

If you have an idea for a good Meet the Maker profile, please post in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #meethtemaker or simply tag me in your post! And you can find more inspiration for my Meet the Makers series and creative business journey on Pinterest!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

I’ve always been into arts and crafts, but I didn’t get seriously into it until I was pregnant and was left in an apartment with nothing to do and big ol craft closet just waiting to be torn apart. That’s around the time that I purchased my very first crafting book, Big Ass Book of Crafts by Mark Montano. After I realized all of the wonderful things I can do, my imagination went crazy.

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Being a devout follower of A Beautiful Mess, I saw that Elsie and Emma, who run the site, have come out with a new book.

Image belongs to A Beautiful Mess

Image belongs to A Beautiful Mess

This got me thinking about all the other cool arts and crafts book that are out there, that I have just totally missed the boat on. Here are some of my favorites.

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Photo belongs to Lauren Elise Donaldson

Mason Jar Crafts from Lauren Elise Donaldson – The only thing that I love more than finding a good book is finding a wonderful blog that is attached to it. Luckily, Lauren has come through with two blogs that are equally amazing. She has Lauren Elise Crafted, where she shares her crafts and love for design and styling. Her other blog, Cottage Journal, is more writings and photography about her home life.

Image belongs to Cicada Publishing

Image belongs to Cicada Publishing

State of Craft by Victoria Woodcock – This book is handled by Cicada Publishing, a publishing company that handles art, design and craft books. They also published the book You’re Awesome: 21 Crafts to Make You Happy by Abbey Hendrickson, which looks like an awesome read.

The last two books are from the Design*Sponge 2011 gift guide. Obviously, I’m a little behind in this craft book craze.

Image belongs to Paper & Cup

Image belongs to Paper & Cup

Paper + Craft by Minhee and Truman Cho – Minhee and Truman Cho are the creative minds behind Paper+Cup, and also co-wrote this awesome craft book. They are a stationary and design studio that was based in New York, but they recently moved to Paris and share all their inspiration in their online sketchbook.  If you haven’t checked them out yet, you definitely should.

Image belongs to Christine Schmidt

Image belongs to Christine Schmidt

Print Workshop by Christine Schmidt – Christine Schmidt also runs Yellow Owl Workshop, her brand that sells eco-friendly handmade goods, including greeting cards and stamps. She also offers a kit for carving your own stamps and she sells stamp sets that say “from the garden,” which I’m pretty sure I need. I think this site might get me in some trouble.

So, I’m feeling pretty good about this list of books. I would buy each and every one of these books, and chances are, I probably will sometime in the near future. If you know of any cool craft books that you feel need some attention, share them in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #craftbooks.