Spoonflower can be a great tool and platform for growing your creative business. Designer and writer Abby Glassenberg has created a series of three posts exploring how designers can build community, leverage contest wins, and maximize sales in the Spoonflower Marketplace. Today we’ll look at how Spoonflower designers can connect with one another as a community of colleagues.
Surface design is a rather solitary endeavor. The hours spent drawing or painting, manipulating images on the computer, and refining color palettes might be joyous and fulfilling, but they can also feel a bit lonely. Spoonflower gives us access not only to digital printing, but also to a global community of designers if only we seek them out.
Spoonflower is big. Since 2008 designs have been added to the marketplace at an increasingly rapid pace, now numbering at a quarter million! Although it might feel overwhelming at first, connecting with fellow Spoonflower users will provide you with a support system that can make the experience feel smaller. Building a network of Spoonflower designers will help you to improve your portfolio, make more sales, and have more fun on the site.
A sample of the kind of community Kim Russ is building in the comments on her Spoonflower designs.
A great place to begin is to tap into the community features built into the Spoonflower site: messaging, favoriting, and commenting. “Community is what keeps me on Spoonflower,” says designer Kim Russ. “I often send messages back and forth both to my spoon buddies and to designers whose work catches my eye.” Take some time to leave a comment on the designs you love. Over time, reaching out this way can lead to lasting relationships. Russ organized an in-person meet up of Spoonflower colleagues she met on the site. “I organized a get together in my small town of Kelso, WA, for West Coast spoonies,” she explains. “We had about eight of us from three states and we presented our work and the concept of Spoonflower at a local quilt shop to a packed audience.” The group is hoping to make it an annual event.
The Spoonflower Flickr pool is the oldest and largest community of Spoonflower designers.
If you’d like to connect further with fellow designers, try the Spoonflower Flickr pool. With a total of 4,541 members, it’s the largest gathering of Spoonflower designers off of the Spoonflower site. The group is hosted by Spoonflower co-founder, Stephen Fraser, but is mostly unmoderated. Discussions range from technical questions to broader business questions such social media marketing. Most topics get between 20-50 responses and the discussion is lively.
For member Kathy Howard, the Flickr group turns the vastness of the Spoonflower Marketplace into a smaller, more accessible community. “It does seem like a big family here…It’s hard to picture Spoonflower beyond those that write here. Spoonflower is so much bigger than this group, it is kind of scary and intimidating to think about.” Member Elishka Jepson agrees. “This group has been really helpful, for a whole variety of things, from having someone to ask technical questions, like ‘why isn’t my file saving and the contest entry is due right now!,’ to discussions on IP laws, to people you can ask about licensing contracts, to just having somewhere to talk everything Spoonflower!”
Join the Spoonflower Fans Facebook group to connect with fellow designers, ask questions, and show off what you’re working on.
If Flickr isn’t your favorite social media outlet, an alternative is a fairly new, but thriving Facebook group for Spoonflower users called Spoonflower Fans. Group founder, Georges Lefevre, heard about Spoonflower from a friend who was selling pillows she’d sewn from fabric she had designed and printed on the site. “My mind was blown that such a service even existed,” recalls Lefevre. An artist by training, Lefevre felt confident creating the artwork he wanted for fabric, but had some questions about the technicalities of making a repeat pattern. He searched on Facebook for a group to join. “To my huge surprise there was not yet a Facebook group for Spoonflower designers, just the official Spoonflower Facebook page,” Lefevre recalls. So he started one.
The group has grown rapidly from 174 members in May 2015, to 1,633 members in October of 2016. The Spoonflower Fans Facebook group has proven to be a great resource for connecting with fellow surface pattern designers. Members share what they’re working on for the weekly Spoonflower design contest and celebrate together if someone from the group places in the top ten. They help one another with questions about sizing, scale, and color combinations, and show off what they’ve made from their fabrics. Lefevre is proud of the warm community that the Spoonflower Fans group has become. “I’ve yet to intervene even once in a conversation. Everyone is civil and helpful.”
Jill Bogart uses Instagram to connect with fellow Spoonflower designers.
Outside of these two formal groups, Spoonflower designers also connect with one another on Instagram where the #Spoonflower hashtag currently has over 21,000 images. Designer Jill Bogart has developed several friendships this way. “Instagram is my favorite forum to connect with Spoonflower friends,” she says. “I just stumble upon other designers through designers I already follow and chat with them.” Search the hashtags and then scroll through images for inspiration. If you see something that really strikes you, comment or ask a question about it. Follow users whose work you particularly admire to connect with fellow designers the way Bogart has. Remember to also hashtag your own images to help build an audience of Spoonflower friends for your work as well.
Drawn together by a mutual love of surface design and digital printing, Spoonflower designers from all over the world are finding one another and forming friendships, both online and in person. These relationships are fun and motivating and can help you to grow your business. If you haven’t already, reach out and become an active member of the Spoonflower community.
I’m Abby Glassenberg, the author of While She Naps. My blog is about sewing stuffed animals and running a creative business. I’m interested in soft toy design, publishing, the sewing industry, and entrepreneurship for creatives.
Most of all, I believe that it’s possible to build a creative business that sustains you.