In this week’s installment of the “Meet Spoonflower” series, allow us to introduce you, in her own words, to weekend printer Kelly Walsh.
Of all the jobs I ever imagined I’d be working post graduation, I never thought it’d be anything like what I do at Spoonflower. In my early years of college, I had grand plans to become an astrophysicist. I wanted to study the stars and solve the mysteries of the universe. But I was impatient and easily distracted, and I got tired of calculating the trajectories of cannon balls shot off of cliffs. That’s when I switched my studies to computer science, took a few programming classes, and convinced a friend to help me build my own computer. I would rule the digital world and speak the secret language of the computers! But then I realized how many math classes I’d be required to take…. Eventually, I ended up with a major in philosophy, of all things, and spent my finals years at school trying to explain to my parents how I’d use a philosophy degree out in the “real world.”
The easy answer: Spoonflower isn’t the real world. It’s a magical land of fun and fabric and adventure. I get to play with computers, but I’m not stuck at a keyboard all day. I get to interact with an amazing set of coworkers, and work with them to solve puzzles about ink, fabric tension, and error messages. And best of all, I get that amazing sense of satisfaction knowing that I have created a piece of fabric that someone out there will use and enjoy. Or, well, I pressed a button on a computer screen, and somehow tricked a grumpy printer into feeding its fabric correctly and spraying out the proper colors of ink in a certain pattern of dots on a hopefully unwrinkled surface. But “creation” just sounds more poetical.
Today at Spoonflower I packed and shipped orders. I’m a weekend shift printer, so my week is a bit flipped around compared to the rest of the world. I go into work on Friday, and work in the print room all weekend. Then on Monday (which is like Friday to me) I help out on the operations floor doing whatever needs to be done that day. Today, that was packing all the orders that had gotten printed and cut down over the weekend. I packed and packed and packed and packed, and the pile of orders never got any smaller. I confess, packing is not my favorite thing to do; it gets tedious after a while. However, I like it because it gives me a chance to see some of the wonderful designs people have ordered, and in some fun way it’s a small interaction with the customers. I like that we sign every pack slip we send out with an order. Sometimes if I’m feeling a bit silly, I’ll draw the customer a little picture. For the Doctor Who dalek prints I like to draw a speech bubble that says “EXTERMINATE!” For other nerdy prints I might write “Live Long and Prosper.” I like imagining what customers think when they open their package and find out that the person who packed it is also a fan of the things they enjoy.
In my free hours this week, I hope to finish up a few sewing projects. I’ve been trying to get better at making everyday clothing. I love making costumes, and have been attending Renaissance fairs and sci-fi/fantasy conventions for years just so I could dress up. But very few items of clothing I’ve made can actually be worn out in the real world. I can make a corset or a petticoat like a pro, but show me a tailored blouse pattern and I’m lost. I’ve created a Poison Ivy costume and a Red Queen ball gown, but I can’t sew an invisible zipper on straight to save my life. I’m extremely proud of the shirt I’m wearing in this picture. The fabric design is Nouveau in Green by Locamode. One of my other favorite designers is Cestlaviv. Her watercolor patterns are so vivid you could swear she had put her paint brush right on the fabric.
I’m quite possibly the biggest book nerd at Spoonflower. I love to read and rarely leave the house without a book or two. I love fiction, especially mysteries and science fiction. I think Neil Gaiman is fantastically brilliant, and one of my favorite memories is of my family flying to England to meet author Jasper Fforde. Lately I’ve been reading books by Iain M Banks. He is a sci-fi author who writes about artificially intelligent space ships who have wickedly witty senses of humor. I enjoy them because sometimes at work I imagine what the printers would be saying to me if they could speak. I think they’d have the same sarcastic sense of humor as the ships in Banks’ novels.
My favorite days at Spoonflower are ones where we all decide to create our lunches together. We pick a theme (like deli-sandwiches, or baked potato bar, or breakfast burrito day) and each of us brings a couple of different ingredients. Baked potato bar day was my favorite, I baked a bunch of potatoes, and everyone else brought in a couple of toppings they like to eat on potatoes. There were the classics– cheese, sour cream, bacon–but we also had some really creative ideas like salsa, broccoli, sauteed mushroooms, olives, even some smoked salmon! (Which I was skeptical about, but turned out to be delicious!)