I’m very excited to introduce this month’s spotlight designer, Anee Shah, because she’s proof that you don’t have to come from an artistic background to make a go as a surface designer (Anee started as a scientist). I’m grateful to have gotten to know her as a PYP student and I know you’ll enjoy reading her story…
Please Introduce Yourself
Hi there! I am Anee, a scientist turned artist + surface designer based in Boston, MA. I’m a painter of botanicals and florals and I want to add warmth and joy to homes with my art. I live for slow mornings with the smell of coffee, sleepy afternoons, good food, and a life peppered with humor and sarcasm. I left my cushiony job in early 2020 right before the world changed and started my business last summer.
Tell us a little bit about your design journey.
After my daughter was born, I started noticing all the cute motifs on swaddles, baby blankets and baby clothes and it hit me that my work could also be on these products. I had no idea what surface design was at the time and consider my mind blown when a Google search on how to get my art on these products showed up a design field specifically catering to this! Soon I started taking courses on pattern making and the business of art. I was still working full time and taking care of a toddler so every spare moment went in learning about the world of licensing and surface design!
What did you struggle with most as a new designer?
Finding a work flow that fit my style was a struggle. I am a painter and initially I thought vectorizing (Ai) is the only way to go to get my work licensed. I hated the results of vectorizing my watercolors and I was so bummed about potentially changing my style to get licensed. After asking around, I realized that tons of designers work in Photoshop and get licensed without vectorizing their work. That was a huge relief! I have only worked in Ps since then and all my licensed work has been raster.
What advice about the surface design industry has been most helpful to you in your career so far?
Actually, it’s something Shannon mentioned in her Pitch Your Portfolio course. Don’t take rejection personally and always always follow up! So thank you for that 🙂
What has been your favorite client collaboration to date and how did you find them?
I loved working with Alice and Ames. They make the most soft, twirly dresses for girls. I had been following them on Instagram for awhile and decided to pitch them my portfolio. My first design was a part of their 2020 holiday collection and it was truly special to see my girl in one of my prints!
When you look back at your design journey so far, what are you most proud of?
I am still a newbie but I am proud of myself for having the courage to take the leap and chase my dreams.
Where do you see yourself in your career three years from now?
I would love to have some cool collabs under my belt and also run a profitable online print shop of my own.
What advice would you give to surface designers who are struggling?
Believe in yourself. Be creative in marketing yourself and your work.
Where can we find you?
P.S. If you’d like to be featured on the SDR blog, you can always submit your story right here!