Friday, April 08, 2016

why I will never be on a design team

Sometimes I have a lot to say about life and I start to compose a Facebook post and I stop myself and go, "Wait. This needs to be a blog post."

This is one of those times. :)

I was just on Instagram and I saw someone's lovely work for some lovely company like Simple Stories or American Crafts and all at once I kind of couldn't breathe and I said in my head,

"Thank GOD I'm not on a design team!"

It surprised me that I felt so strongly about it but it just hit me like that and I realized, I need to say that sentence out loud, in public so I won't ever go back on that feeling. I have decided I could just never, ever, ever cope with being on a design team. This will come as no surprise to those of you who listen to Live Inspired but I've been asking myself recently why I'm so against it for myself. (Since the standard "get your name out there" move in my industry is definitely to be on a well-known design team.)

After much contemplation, here are the reasons why I could never be on a design team:

1) I am not a multi-tasker. I used to multi-task. Maybe I multi-tasked until I fried my brain but now, I simply cannot multi-task. I must focus on one task or project at a time and work on it until it is done. I also must give myself more time than I think it will take because I am easily distracted by the shiny glint of the internet or a sunny day with blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Now that I work for myself, I primarily focus on creating classes. If I had a design team assignment, it is very possible that I could be in the middle of creating a class and have to stop, switch gears, make a layout with a totally different theme or topic, photograph it, write a blog post about it and send it in before returning to my work. I just couldn't do it. I get in a groove and rhythm that works for me. Today I made two class videos and by the end of the second one, I was cookin' with grease (as we say here in the South). When I'm in class creation mode, I think, eat, breathe and sleep the topic until the class is done. I barely do laundry and dishes, let alone make a product-driven layout for another purpose.

2) I don't work well on someone else's timeline. If someone says to me, "How long do you think this will take you?" I always feel nervous. When it comes to creativity, I don't really know sometimes how long things will take me. Sometimes I can whip a layout out in one hour and last Tuesday I spent 12 hours making two layouts. I hadn't created anything in 6 weeks and I had to get back on track and find my mojo. It was okay because I had given myself the time but if there had been any kind of pressure, I would have probably sat on the couch and watched Andy Griffith and lived in the land of perfectionist procrastination because that's my home away from home when I feel pressured. No, I have to be the one steering my own ship.

3) I want the things I create to be of my own choosing. I don't want any parameters or guidelines unless I create them for myself. That's why the sketch class I do with Crafty Jen Schow works so well for me. We work on 15 sketches and then what I create with them is entirely up to me. I can use any picture, any story, any technique or product and say as much or as little about them as I'd like. She trusts me explicitly to be a good teacher and designer and I feel the same way about her. Because of that, it's a totally enjoyable experience to work on the class. If my favorite product manufacturer said, "Here are some of your favorite products. Now make us a page by Wednesday about family, using them all." my head would spin off. I just don't operate that way. I go, "Wait, what?" I have a long list of classes I'm creating this year and some of them are with other people but I will be the one in control of the time frame and ideas. That's just the way I'm wired. I like to be the boss I guess. ha!

4) I don't want to be compared with other high profile designers that are on design teams. I am pretty good about not comparing my work to other people's and being happy with what I make. I think if I were on a design team with super talented people, when it came time to create, I would feel the pressure of living up to being chosen for that team. I would live in fear of being good enough to cut it. I know me. I am a perfectionist with a capital P. I hold myself to a very high standard and everything I do, I try to do well. So if I felt that my layouts weren't up to par, design wise, with everyone else's, that would shake my confidence. I am such a fan of so many designers who put themselves out there. I know myself enough to know my work beside theirs would mess with me. I care less about what my critics say and more about what I think of myself so it's not that I would be worried about being judged by others. I just feel that it's an added pressure that would be a part of my creative process and it would affect the way I feel about memory keeping and my creative time. I would be setting myself up for failure and I've learned lately how to avoid doing that by making good life choices.

5) The payoff (product) wouldn't be worth the investment (time) to me. I know many people truly enjoy receiving boatloads of product they'd probably be buying anyway. Not me. Too much product actually overwhelms me. I don't like a lot of anything in my house: it starts to feel chaotic. I am a slow scrapper so I can just imagine all that product piling up and the guilt I would feel for not using it quickly enough. It would be hard to let go of and hard to keep. Also, there is only so much time in the day that I can spend being crafty. I don't want any part of that time to be spent doing something just so I can get free stuff. I just don't. I'd rather pick and choose what I want and then order it. I am perfectly happy sharing my work primarily in my classes for the people who like me enough to support what I'm doing here in Tracie-land. :) I know many people participate in design teams because it's a great feeling to receive a lot of positive feedback about your work but I am blessed enough by the kindness of others on a daily basis that my cup runneth over in that department. It's great to get praise on something you create for fun or for free but it's a beyond wonderful feeling to work hard on a class and then receive praise. I know because the testimonials I've received on my classes have been the highlight of my creative career. It makes all the time I work for free (on podcasts) and the time I work on my classes totally worth it!

These are the main reasons I've never applied to be on a design team and never will. It really boils down to creating parameters for my creativity that allow me to enjoy my life. I think the older I get, the more I realize how I want my life to look. Time is truly my greatest asset so I must spend it wisely. I also know my own strengths and weaknesses and that's why I am able to make the list above and share it without reservation. It's okay that I don't want to be on a design team. Honestly, sometimes I do consider it but I am writing this post to remind me of why it wouldn't work for my life. I recently quit the Write.Click.Scrapbook team for many of these reasons. I love those girls to pieces but I just couldn't make the necessary commitment to them that was requested while I'm creating so many classes. I think if I weren't in "build a business" mode, I might feel differently on this topic. I am open to guest blog posts and have one coming up that's exciting but I can fit that in every once in a while and on my timetable. :)

So having said ALL makes me even more thankful to all the lovely ladies who take so much time to inspire me every single day! I hope that by listening to Live Inspired, the creative community is getting a glimpse into the amazing amount of time it takes to inspire others on a regular basis and I hope that glimpse cultivates an attitude of gratitude for our favorite designers. If you're reading and you're on a design team, bravo and thank you! I'm sure you have your own very valid reasons for investing your time into the creative community and I admire you for it.

I celebrated a major milestone yesterday. Live Inspired hit 100K+ downloads. In just 20 weeks and one day, 101,400 listeners enjoyed the shows. The moments I've spent taping the shows have been some of my favorite moments of my life. I sit there with my headphones on, mic in front of me, thinking, "I am a lucky girl." So thanks to all of you who have listened and continue to support me with your kindness. You are all so very lovely. I have grown to truly love so many of my listeners that I interact with online. XO!


Anonymous said...

What an interesting post, Tracie - it sounds like you know your own mind and what works - and doesn't work! - for you. I think getting things down in a blog post like this can be really helpful.

A couple of things sprang to mind as I read your post that I thought I'd share, just from my perspective of thoroughly enjoying being on a couple of Design Teams. I think for me, the experience of being part of something bigger is an important factor. The teams I'm on are lovely to be a part of - that in itself gives me a lot of pleasure and honour. There is way more gentleness and encouragement than even I expected - they are positive places to be where you can really try and push yourself to 'up your game'. The free goodies are a wonderful bonus (that said, I use most of mine up each month) but they're not my motivating factor. For me, it's the challenge, I think - that sense of wanting to be my very best.

From the outside looking in on your world, I would note that you already have a very key role as 'scrap cheerleader' of a slightly different kind: you have a gift for entertaining podcasts that is not to be underestimated. Your evangelism (!) for scrapbooking and your no-nonsense manner makes you a compelling listen - you're already cheering on every scrap company out there, team or no team.

One final thought though - never say never, friend! ;) xx

Anonymous said...

I think this kind of perspective is what I call "the gift of being in your forties," although it's not exclusive to that age group, of course. I feel like a lot of women really thrive once they get a handle on what really makes them happy and then go after it. Keep reaching for the joy!

Keely said...

Great post, Tracie!! This is what makes the world goes round. Each person has their own gifts and selves to share in their own way. I am grateful to you for using your gifts on the Scrap Gals, Live Inspired and Magic Memories podcasts, on your blog and on your classes!! Rock on girlfriend!!

TracieClaiborne said...

Suse - you make an excellent point about the camaraderie and being part of something bigger. I hadn't considered that part of it but I already enjoy that thanks to the community I've built online.

I thought about the "never say never" aspect for months before posting this but I said never on purpose to remind myself in case I'm ever tempted! :)

Cody Doll said...

I feel I could have written this post myself, only replace your classes with Chonic Illness problems. As much as I would love to be on a design team, I also have to realize who I am and design teams wouldn't work for me. Time is super precious for me and often I cant create even when I want to. So I totally love this post!

Diann B said...

One of the first steps in being a success, Tracie, is knowing exactly what your strengths, your goals, and your limitations are. I think you have zoned in on them exactly. Learning that early on and sticking to it is something some people never master. Great blog, and keep up the good work.

Susanne said...

Good for you for knowing your own mind. Everyone has to decide for themselves. I think being on design teams is a wonderful thing for many reasons, but there are definite pitfalls too. If you do not choose one that fits with your own wants, needs and goals, you may well find that you regret the time and effort expended because you strayed too far afield. The only thing that always does make me sad is when I see hundreds of layouts that are pretty as can be, and there are nearly no stories told there. When those design teams come knocking at my door (and I really do want them to), I hope I remember to fill my pages with nice long stories.

Unknown said...

It was good for me to see this, I was on a design team for a papercraft company here in the UK for a year, reapplied for my position and didn't get in... I enjoyed the free product I received but I felt they were wasting their money sending out so much product when they didn't really interact with their designers.
I've been applying for more design teams and not been successful on any of them, probably because there are more talented people than me.
Reading this post made me feel better, I know there's more to crafting than getting on DTs.
I just enjoyed being on the team as I met some great people and it took my mind off of depression for a while. I need to keep busy...

Sherrie J. said...

I agree completely with all of your reasons. And even though I'm old (almost 71) I just came to terms with my thought process on doing or not doing things. I could use these same reasons for not obligating myself for all my crafting. I do my creating mainly for myself, and to please those I create for. I not only make scrap books, cards and mini albums, I sew a great deal for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I make quilts, crochet, knit and cross stitch to give as gifts. My family and friends always praise my creations! And I do it just to please them! Grandchildren range in age from 3-28. So I can give unique gifts that cannot be found in stores and are rarely duplicated by someone else. Everything from clothing, toys, doll clothes, etc. to my gifts of cards, albums, etc. I love creating! And if I was under pressure... not only being part of a design team, but having to use certain products, a specific time frame to create, and being compared to others, I not only would panic, I'd probably shut down! So thank you for being so doggone good at explaining. You always know how to get your point across that makes sense to all of us. I love your blog, your podcasts, your Facebook groups and think the world of you. Thanks for being YOU!

Sarah said...

Having done it, I would just say that sometimes it's not all it's cracked up to be. I wouldn't do it again. :)