Today, I would like to introduce you to one of my biggest design inspirations – Sam Osborne, the 33-year-old self-proclaimed brightly colored design nerd, from just outside of Oxford, UK. She’s graphic designer whose work seamlessly flows from online, to print and to textile. Sam is another lovely person that I met through Oh My Handmade! and I’m so thrilled to share her story with you!
Sam grew up in a family of creatives, and her dad is a graphic designer and has been running his own design business since she was eight year old. Needless to say, the designer and entrepreneurial spirit runs through her veins. “A second language, almost.” She took an Art Foundations class in College, where she got to try out all sorts of art media, but it was graphic design that stuck with her, and that’s what she ultimately got her degree in.
“I honestly didn’t really consider doing anything else, it just felt like the natural path to take.”
After Sam graduated from school, she worked for various design agencies – starting as a Junior Designer, and eventually working her way up to Senior Print & Brand Designer. In January 2011, Sam decided to start her own graphic design business where she could embrace more of her artistic side.
“I loved, and still love, graphic design work and during my time with agencies I learned so much about how businesses operate. Graphic design is a business tool in many respects and so that learning was vital. But I’d come a long way from my artistic routes and I missed that.”
Since Sam’s studio is in her house, she does all of her work at home – which includes checking email, social media, online orders and completing any administrative tasks in the morning. Around her lunch time, she will ship out any orders she needs to and tries to fit in blogging and marketing with her design work. She’ll close up shop around 6 pm and gets to spend some time with her second love – cooking! Then, it’s back to where it all started – the sketchbook!
“I try to strike a balance between graphic design work and my more srty pattern and illustration work but deadlines don’t always allow that!”
Sam describes her studio as a small, colorful corner in her second bedroom. She stacks all of her stock, material, equipment, and paperwork in a storage cabinet behind the door and fills her walls with works in progress and framed prints from other artists and designers.
“It’s a battle to keep my desk anything like clear and tidy, I’m surrounded by various bits of paper, mugs of coffee and all my gadgets – Wacom tablets, trackpad and an Inkling. And I have fairy lights!”
Like most designers, Sam pretty much lives in Illustrator and then uses Photoshop for editing photos of her work and creating web graphics and InDesign for multi-page works, such as client brochures. And for her non-design needs, it’s Chrome and Spotify.
Music serves as motivation and inspiration for her and she says that she rarely ever works in silence. She has quite the variety of music in her Spotify queue, and she also listens to Ted Talks and audiobooks while she works.
“At the moment, I’m going through an electronic 80s phase with lots of Yazoo and Joy Division but that could all change in an hour and I’ll be listening to Beth Orton or AC/DC or Take That”
She also finds inspiration from her favorite designers like Saul Bass, Jacqueline Groag, Kenneth Noland, Alan Fletcher; artists like Degas, Bridget Riley, André Derain and Jenny Saville; and books like the Print and Pattern series, The Pattern Sourcebook, Orla Kiely’s’ Pattern, Lilla Roger’s I Just Like To Make Things and Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour.
While finances and managing your own business can puts a lot of pressure on her, Sam says that the positives outweigh all of the stress. She loves the freedom of working from home and choosing her own hours and jobs, which ultimately leads to carving out her own career path.
“I love the challenge of learning how to run your own business, learning about new markets and industries and most of all learning about myself and my work in ways I never did when I worked for other people.”
As part of her business, Sam launched a Bespoke design and branding line – where she offers services such as branding, design and illustration and wedding stationary services. She says it’s a really collaborative process and she feels like she working with her clients, not for them.
“I love seeing something I’ve created help a small business get off the ground, bring something special to a wedding day or help sell a new line of products.”
Sam also started her own line of products, something that she planned to do right when she started her new business. She started selling prints, and then it has moved on from there. It’s still in the beginning stages, she says, and she plans on expanding her range in the new year.
Clearly, she does not have enough going on, so she also started the Handmade Makers Mart with her friend Michelle in 2012, after years of planning and talking
about it. She declares Michelle an events wizard, so naturally she took care of the event planning and organizing, and Sam handled the branding and design.
“…we make the perfect team really. We wanted to bring a new kind of craft fair to our local area with funkier makers and an emphasis on getting to know more about them and creating a community around our fairs. We’re having a break at the moment while Michelle settles into life as a new Mum but we’ll be back soon!”
Sam says her favorite thing about what she does is all of the variety – she could be designing a logo for a start-up company, dealing with technicolor separations for a pattern, visiting a wallpaper factory and planning her next marketing drive, all in one week!
“It’s this variety that keeps me interested and engaged with all my projects, I love it and couldn’t go back to doing just one thing!”
When Sam needs to unwind a little from everything she does, she loves cooking and baking, as she views both as other creative outlets. “I’m not good at following a recipe to the letter!” She also loves going for a run or just relaxing on the couch with a good movie.
As another way to unwind, Sam downloaded an app that allows that you record and store a picture each day. This prompted her to start a series called “A Month in the Life” on her blog, where she features a different creative friend each month.
“I’ve found most of the people through courses and communities I am part of but it really is open to pretty much anyone!
Next, she hopes to work on more licensing deals, as her first one for Post-It Notes went live in October, and she is also adding new collections to her shop, which she hopes to bring to trade shows next year.
“I hope people see from my story that you can do it. If you have a dream or ambition and aren’t afraid of hard work then anything is possible. You can change your life and do what you love!”
You can find out more about Sam by visiting her website and connecting with her on: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and find her products on Etsy! If you would like to see a person featured in this series (your wonderful self included), share a link in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ with the hashtag #meetthemaker. You can find more Meet the Maker inspiration on my Pinterest!