An Interview with Interwoven

 
I think if you aren’t careful you can end up sacrificing design for business - even if you don’t mean to.
— Meg Summerfield
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Today, I am very excited to introduce you to the latest offering from Meg Summerfield. As many of you may know, Meg and I love to partner up with Drop Cap brands. She is an expert in the world of Squarespace, and a very talented designer. After seeing a gaping hole in the creative industry (especially among creative small business owners) Meg is launching a seminar for creativity. I had the pleasure of interviewing her about Interwoven, and am really excited to share her story below!

1. Tell me about your design studio and the type of clients you work with on a daily basis.

I run a branding and Squarespace studio, where we work mostly with creatives who want to kick their online presence up a notch. After getting my start in food blogging (as an escape from my in-house design job) I have found a great home in Squarespace as well as within the food industry. Generally, our clients are fellow creatives, including a lot of other design studios!

2. What's your favorite part of running your business and what's your favorite part of being a designer? Do you feel like you have to sacrifice one or the other to manage a creative business?

My favorite part, by far, of running my own online business is meeting people that aren't in my local community. The connection to people who are far away is incredible. I now can boast friends from all corners of the earth, and I think that connection is so rewarding, especially while doing a job I love. As a design geek, I love that the freelance style of business allows me to shape my calendar, style of clients, etc. so that I can both design and grow as an artist! I think if you aren't careful you can end up sacrificing design for business - even if you don't mean to. There are so many hats that we have to wear as business owners, but remembering why we started this journey - for the creative lifestyle - makes it worth every bookkeeping or administration day!

3. As an independent business owner in Rhode Island, what has your experience been like finding community?

The local community in the design world wasn't as full and enriching as I had hoped, so instead, I found community in other freelancers and creatives, friends from my first graphic design job, local bloggers, and through creative events. I think, like anywhere, you have to put yourself out there, which is crazy hard, but sometimes an email asking someone out to lunch can not only change your day but also help form a friendship or even secure a future client!

4. Tell me about the importance that community and creativity have on professional growth.

There's this stereotype about artists that we have in our mind - one where these crazy painters are locked up in their studio or alone in a field where their own experiences and thoughts are enough to sustain their creativity. But that image is so far from the truth in real life, especially with freelance! I find that in order to be really creative, you have to rely not only on your own creative brain, but also on those around you who challenge your ideas, help you grow through critique and friendship, as well as pick you up when an idea doesn't pan out the way you expected. The creative career path can be so winding and unique, but it only works if you form ideas that work not just for you, but also for others. I like to remind people that in a lot of schools, the graphic design department is in the communications school. You need to understand your community and form tight bonds to see other creative perspectives and design not just for yourself, but for an audience.

5. When did you start noticing a need for Interwoven in the online creative space?

In the last year, I was a part of three different mastermind groups. While they were all great for different reasons, we never talked about design. And yet, we told each other we loved design school and learning and that we would go back if we could. This happened over and over. Our discussions would turn to our other projects since our client/services work wasn't as fulfilling as we had always dreamed it would be. I started asking myself whether or not my design work should be fulfilling and artistic, and how did it turn and shift? I pulled way back from teaching, and focused on the process, communicating with clients, and infusing creativity into each step of the process, which helped me fall in love with my studio all over again. I didn't feel like I had to start eight new projects to be fulfilled anymore. Then, I decided that I wanted to share this with others through Interwoven.

6. Tell me about your lightbulb moment when you decided to pursue this idea.

The lightbulb idea was when I was about halfway through my own journey to find creativity this year, and I kept looking for a place where I could grow artistically within the community. I wanted to challenge myself, but also share the experience with others - and it didn't exist. I wholeheartedly believe that if something doesn't exist then there's nothing wrong with creating it yourself (that's how SSDG started).

7. Interwoven is such a unique learning/community model. What did the process look like to put together the Interwoven experience?

First, I outlined all the things I would want to experience in a group, as well as my favorite parts of courses I've taken. Then the research began. In order to have good discussions you have to have the right topics, but even more important are the appropriate readings to go with them. Not the 'Meg's Graphic Design Reading', but the ones where you step back and think - huh, I've been designing for 10 years and I never thought to adjust my process in that way, kind of reading.

8. What is your greatest hope with launching Interwoven?

My hope is that it builds a creative and artistic foundation for those involved - that we challenge our minds and artistic sensibilities, and find a giddy love for design again (which can get lost in a pile of taxes, administration, list-building and more). We all love learning about design but fail to stop and make time for it. Challenging our creativity is so important, so I hope the seminar inspires people to take these ideas into their freelance work.

9. Who is Interwoven for?

Any designer! From web designer to print designer, the challenges (or homework) are totally adaptable to your specific niche or business, but set within the topic, so they ask you to think about your process differently, not just learn the basics. It's great for those who are new designers wanting to get better at design, but also those who have been designing for years and want to infuse design back into their daily life and make space for creativity in their process.

10. Who is it not for?

This course isn't for those who don't want to challenge themselves or really be involved in a course. What you put into the course is what you will get out of it, through discussions, readings, challenges and more.


If Interwoven sounds like the perfect addition to your creative process, you can find out more by going to www.interwovenseminar.com! But hurry, because registration closes this Friday, January 12, at midnight or as soon as the twelve coveted spots in the seminar are gone!