Today we get to enjoy an inside look at the life & designing career of our December Guest Designer Jen Cairns of Jen C Designs. Read on to learn all about Jen… and be sure to enter our giveaway contest for a chance to win Jen’s shiny new kit “Winter Sparkles” created especially for Log Your Memory!
Please tell us a little about yourself … your family, your background, pets, hobbies, etc… My name is Jen and I have been married to my best friend for 5.5 years and we have two “energetic” children – Luke and Charlotte. We recently moved from Ontario, Canada to Belfast, UK – which is where my husband’s family is from. When I’m not busy with work or digital scrapping stuff (designing and scrapping), I love to play with my kids, cook, and read.
Are you a digital, paper or hybrid scrapper/designer? What do you like most about this method? I used to be a paper scrapper, but with the arrival of my kids, I quickly learned that they make enough mess without my hobbies creating another! The last paper project I worked on was a scrapbook for my mum. But I love the unlimited possibilities of digital scrapping – both from the perspective of scrapping and designing! And I love that glue and bits of paper don’t get everywhere – clean up simply involves closing my computer!
How long have you been a designer & how did you first get started? I started in April 2010 – so a year and a half. I discovered digital scrapping when I was on maternity leave with my daughter. I was creating blog backgrounds for friends and stumbled across the DigiShopTalk forum. Needless to say – I was hooked! I joined a creative team straight away and then moved on to designing soon after.
Is scrapbook product design your full-time job? If not, what else do you do? Alas, no – I wish it was! But I went back to work in January 2011. We recently moved to the UK and I just started a new job as a web marketer. It’s a job that I would never have been able to do without my experience in marketing, social networking and working with online stores that I have gained over the last year and a half as a digital designer. Needless to say juggling designing, working and living life with my wonderful family keeps me busy – but I love it!
What software & platform do you use in your design work? Do you use any other special tools? I am a Mac girl – I have a Mac Book Air and I love it – it goes wherever I go! I use a point and shoot camera and a scanner for extraction work (yes – it is possible to do extractions with a “basic” camera!) As far as software, I use Photoshop, Illustrator and Art Rage. And last fall I treated myself to a Bamboo – it’s so much fun to play with – I love doing my own doodles!
Has your design style changed over time? What has influenced this? I would say yes – only because I started as a designer before I should have and had a learning curve to overcome and some maturity to develop. Fortunately, I’ve learned from some wonderful people and am quite comfortable with my style now. I love the doodle look – but I have to have realistic elements too! I feel increasingly that I’ve found my niche in style – but still like to branch out with new techniques to push myself as well.
What is your biggest challenge as a scrapbook product designer? Hmm … good question. I’m surrounded by inspiration and if I ever run dry, I have a wonderful creative team that has provided me with amazing suggestions. To be honest, I would say time management. I find balancing design/scrap time and actual memory-making time to be tough. I have been working on realigning my priorities and am happy with the baby steps I’ve been making.
What has been the biggest reward or most fulfilling aspect of being a scrapbook product designer? I LOVE seeing layouts created with my products. I know as a scrapper how much of one’s heart and soul goes into a page. When I see someone using my products to express themselves it makes it all so rewarding!
Where do you get your product ideas? Who & what inspires you? I wish I could say I start with a palette, or I start with a theme. But mostly I start with a concept that ends up somewhere quite different from where I began! I don’t like to follow through with something I won’t be happy with in the end. I’ve been inspired by everything from Pinterest, to pictures I’ve taken, to pictures my team has taken, to flowers in the garden, a walk in the park, a pattern on a tablecloth, or personal emotional experiences. Virtually everything has been an inspiration at one time or another!
How long does it typically take you to design a full kit from concept to delivery? What is your process? As much as I would like to get ahead of schedule, I typically brainstorm future possibilities up to a month in advance. But as far as actual kit creation time – I create in my head in advance, then do my doodles and extraction work – and then the rest of the kit – if I’m on a role, I can finish the whole thing in a few days. But it depends on what else is going on. I think though that I’ve managed to put out at least one kit a week since April – so I’ve been on a roll!
What has been your most popular product? “Change” has been a huge hit – I love how the colors worked just perfectly together. My team did amazing work with it and my fans definitely responded. It came from a place in my heart where I was wrestling with all the change in my life earlier this fall and I think it came together “just right.”
What is your favorite kit and why? My current favorite kit is Counting Down – it was my DSD Grab Bag this year and I love how it came together – the colors, the look, everything! I love Christmas and while, as a mum, I find it overwhelming, creating Christmas kits makes me slow down and think about the things I truly cherish about Christmas.
How do you incorporate “real life” scrapbooking into your personal & professional scrapbooking & design work? I always make sure that my kits are easy to use and provide versatility for scrapping real life special occasions and the everyday moments. And when I scrap personally, I always scrap my kids. I think I’ve only scrapped a couple of layouts without my kids in them!
What fills your time when you are NOT scrapbooking? Oh gosh – my kids, work, cooking (I love it!), chores (don’t love them!), hanging out with my husband, spending time with friends. And Facebook – can’t forget Facebook!
What advice do you have for fellow scrapbookers interested in pursuing the scrapbook product design field? I think the most important thing to realize about moving into designing is that if you want to become successful, you need to be your own person. It’s not just about recolouring CU freebies, plopping them in a kit and selling them cheaply. Using commercial products is okay if you use them creatively. Realize that in order to make yourself stand out, you will have to work hard – not just at the design side, but marketing, and fan engagement. You need to be able to manage your store, your blog, your fan page, your newsletters. If you’re not willing to really put in a lot of work, you’ll struggle!
Anything else you’d like to add? Life gets so busy. Remember the reasons why you’re scrapping – you’re scrapping to preserve today’s memories for tomorrow! But if you spend all your time scrapping, you’ll forget the most important thing of all – which is making the memories today.
And now, the kit Jen created just for us to go along with our December Challenge Theme “Celebrate Life: Holidays, Traditions, Celebrations” from the 2011 Memory Logbook.
This kit will soon be available for purchase from Jen’s stores, but one lucky Log Your Memory blog reader will win the entire kit for FREE in today’s Guest Designer Giveaway.
To enter, simply leave a comment below sharing one thing that makes your life sparkle. One random winner will be drawn from all comments received here on the blog as of 8 p.m. (Mountain) Sunday, December 18th. Our winner will be announced next week on the blog. Good luck!