Thursday, August 19, 2010

Open letter to no one

(this is completely fictional, not aimed at anyone in particular and meant to help people trying their hand at designing and publishing.)

My dear,

I see you have set up a designer account on Ravelry.  Good for you!  If you don't mind, I'd like to address a few issues I've seen on your patterns.

- I know how exciting it is to see an image of your "child" on the new patterns page, but please do wait until you are actually done knitting/crocheting the thing before you call it a pattern.
It's possible your new design is awesome and unusual, but with only a few rows/rounds done I will never see how cool it is.  Besides, by the time you finish knitting/crocheting it, your lovely new pattern will be buried below a few pages of new designs.
- If you're done working on your new pattern, but not yet done with the instructions and still want to tease us, by all means, create a project page for it.  The best way to make me lose interest in a new pattern is to see a stock image as a place holder on a pattern page.
A little hint for you, the friends feature on Ravelry is an amazing way to be seen.  Another good idea is to post (on groups or your blog) about your new endeavour.
- Your artsy photo is pretty cool, but I can't see any details...You might have some pretty unusual sts going on in there, but if you pleat the finished item like that all I can see is some fabric bunched up.  Please go ahead and use that image too, but make sure it isn't the first one on the pattern page. (On the same note, did you know you can move the image around when placing them on your pattern page?  Click on the image you've just uploaded, hold the mouse button down and move it around until you're satisfied.  This way I don't get to see only a body part or the background when browsing the new patterns section).
- Speaking of photos, do try your best to get a sharp image.  Natural light is your friend, and so are overcast days. 
One of the best features of a digital camera is the fact that it doesn't waste film.  Go ahead and take a good number of pictures of your item.  The more photos you take, the best chance of getting at least one good picture.
Also, the chances of your design running away (like a child or animal would) are very small.  Take your time when "posing" it.  Pay attention to unwanted shadows, the background etc..
- If your design is too big to be captured in all it's beauty in a close up shot, then post photos taken from a certain distance too.  I know it sounds like I'm contradicting myself, but if you only post close ups I won't be able to see the bigger picture (pun intended).
- Back to background...Contrast is key.  If you have a light colored item, use a dark background, if the item is dark, your best choice is a light background.  Linens work great for that - you can hang them over a door, for example.  Please, please, please, refrain from using a busy background, you'll likely attract attention to the wrong thing on the photo.
- Advertise, advertise, advertise.  You might be the best designer ever born since Niebling, but if people don't see what you've created, they won't download your designs.  Talk about what you've done, show it to people.  If you have a chance to go to fiber gatherings, wear your design or at least take it with you.  A few business cards with an URL where people can find your designs is also handy.

I have to go back to the new pattern page on Ravelry to address something else.  To me, at least, it's one of the best features the site has to offer.  You wouldn't believe how many times I had an idea for a new design and when I went there, found out someone else had done it already.
Being a designer isn't only being able to put something together and getting it published.  It requires some homework and IMO, researching is one of them.  It's no wonder no one is downloading your new pattern, if you're the second or third person who came up with the same thing.  Timing is very important and sometimes you don't make it first.  No big deal, don't waste your time and energy re-inventing the wheel, move on.

Lastly, I'd like to warn you that you need a pretty thick skin.  You will hear/read things that will hurt you.  Having a public meltdown isn't a good way to deal with it and will come back to bite you.  Be humble enough to learn from your mistakes and be ready to talk about them publicly, apologize and move on.  Do not, ever, use excuses.

I hope you have as much fun designing as I do.  I wish you all the best,


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