Behind The Print | DessiDesigns


Behind The Print: DessiDesigns I Spunkyrella.comBehind The Print: DessiDesigns I Spunkyrella.comBehind The Print: Dessi Designs |

It’s been way too long since the last Behind The Print feature on Spunkyrella. So today I am stoked to bring back this popular series with a bang just in time for summer!


Meet Desi Ilieva from Dessi Designs from Southampton, UK. The girl behind the cute and bold phone cases popping up daily in your Instagram feed, a dreamer and doer and total #girlboss who never seems to stop! Learn more about her background, idea development and latest designs. Also, one lucky reader can win a gift card to her shop! What a Monday morning, right?!


Behind The Print: Dessi Designs | Spunkyrella.comBehind The Print: Dessi Designs |

Hi Desi! First of all, thank you so much for bringing back the Behind The Print series with me on Spunkyrella. We’re thrilled to have you. Welcome! Let’s jump right in, shall we?
Tell us a bit about your artistic background. What led you to design unique artwork?

Thanks for having me! Well, as a child I grew up loving arts but it wasn’t until my BA degree when I started being a bit more serious about it. After exploring different techniques at Uni, I found out that for me, the most compeling one was painting with watercolour. The way the pigments and colours mix and interact always creates an interesting and richer result. But I also use my skills from my MA degree as a graphic designer, to create the final artwork and make sure it actually works well at the end.


Take us through the average process from the first draft to the finished drawing

After deciding what I want to draw I do a bit of research. For example, when I was creating one of my recent designs „tropical leaves“ I had to explore how they look, how they bend, and how they move in the wind in order to draw them. Then I do a rough sketch of the elements I want to include in a design, I usually draw them separately not as a whole design. Once the shape is decided, I colour the elements before scanning and editing them to make sure they are good for print.


Behind The Print: Dessi Designs | Spunkyrella.comBehind The Print: Dessi Designs | Spunkyrella.comBehind The Print: Dessi Designs |

You have a very distinctive way of drawing that really sets you apart from other artists. I love that you’re not afraid of being playful with both, bold colors and whimsical designs. Was it a long process to find your niche? Has it changed since you started out or do you feel like it will?

Ah… Thank you! I dont think I had a specific idea of what my art would look like, but after a while I found the one that brings me most joy and I hope that people can see that in the end product. I love bright colours and funny little ideas that create positive feel.
My aim is to convey that emotion to other people and make them smile every time they look at their item.
So in that aspect, yes, I think my art has changed and it is changing constantly as I find new things to inspire me and help me evolve as an artist .


I can only attest to that! I love my MacBook case as much as I did when I first saw it! You just recently made the leap to work for your business Dessi Designs full-time. Was it the organic next step that you have always planned or was it more of a spur of the moment decision?

Originally I started the shop as a side project where I could share my art with people. With time it became such a massive and enjoyable part of my life that I wanted to do it all the time, but I couldn’t as I was working full time as a designer. One day however, things turned and I was told that I will be made redundant. So I thought that was the perfect time to chase my dream. People always say be careful what you wish for, I guess in my case that is exactly what happened!


It seems like it was the perfect timing to jump at the chance! Have you ever experienced negative reactions/comments concerning your work? And if so, does it bother you; do you react to it?

To be honest with you in regards to my art I haven’t had negative comments, but as a company every now and then you get customers who aren’t 100 percent happy with their item for one reason or another. It does upset me a bit as I put a lot of effort in the process from start to finish and I don’t think in most cases people realise that it is just me running the shop, but I also try to listen what the issue is and learn from it so I can provide even better service and products. After all, my aim is to create a positive experience for people as well as a good quality product!


Behind The Print: Dessi Designs |

You chose to distribute your work via Etsy mainly which seems to be a popular way to sell artwork these days. What are the benefits in your opinion?

I started with ETSY because I found it very easy to work with and the community around it is really helpful. Also they do help with start up artists/creatives by getting them a bit more exposure, essentially connecting new artists/creatives with people directly.


Makes sense. Do you have any plans to expand your brand? What’s next for DessiDesigns?

I do, yes, I am currently finishing my own website which is so exciting but I also need to learn some slightly more boring things such as marketing strategies so I can share my art with even more people, but all in all it is a very new and interesting experience to me.


Ha, I guess we all can relate to having to deal with boring stuff from time to time! But I am excited for you and sounds like there is hope for cute stationary designs? :)

Hahaha, watch this space ;)

I’m always trying to create new designs and introduce new products so there is a bit more of a range and options for people to choose from.


Sounds great! I always ask this question: Do you have a favorite print by another artist you purchased or you wished that was your idea?

To be honest, I don’t have a favourite print as such, but I often find work from different designers that I love inspire me to create my own art.
I know it is a bit unconventional for an artist to say that, but in my opinion there are so many amazing art pieces out there that it is hard to just pinpoint one in specific. When I find artwork that I like, I look at the techiques used, the colour combinations, the message they want to send or whatever it is that I love about it and I try to understand it, which helps me evolve as an artist.


I don’t think that’s uncommon at all! Inspiration is everywhere! I’m in the middle of Elisabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic which is fantastic by the way. She pointed out that every creative has to imitate before he or she can innovate and she confessed on doing it herself in order to find her own voice. Some ideas may never make it to become a full design that gets sold in your shop anyways, so I am all for keeping the creative juices flowing!


Thanks so much for taking the time to take us Behind The Print today, Desi!

Thank you for this interview, I do hope it was interesting to people and gives them a bit more of an insight of the process and all the effort and devotion behind DessiDesigns.
I would also love to hear your lovely reader’s toughts on what other products and designs they would be interested in seeing in DessiDesign’s little shop.


Behind The Print: Dessi Designs |

Now, let’s talk about the giveaway! Desi generously offered to give a gift card to one lucky reader. Here’s what you need to know in order to participate:

It’s a 15 GBP (around 17 EUR or 19 USD) gift card that’s good for any item in the DessiDesigns online shop. The only thing you have to do is follow DessiDesigns and Spunkyrella on Instagram and leave a comment below this post and inspire Desi with an idea for a new product or design for her shop!

Desi herself will pick the winner! The giveaway ends in a week on July 18th midnight CEST and the winner will be announced on July 20th on Instagram – so make sure you follow both of us! We can’t wait to read what you’re coming up with!



Thanks for taking a peek Behind The Print with us today! ♥



GIVEAWAY CLOSED! Winner announced here!



(1 by @jotagada, 2 by @grainedecoquelicot, all other images courtesy of Desi Ilieva from DessiDesigns)




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  1. Hi! Those designs are cute, and even more lovely when they’re printed to objects :) How about trying some doodles or mandala for the next project? Perhaps you can combine the tropical leaves or ice cream or flowers, with mandala? And for the next product, maybe you could try printing your design on a fabric to make pouch or maybe even clothes! :)

    1. Well, Hanifah, it seems like you just laid out a whole new design plan for Desi :) Thanks for the inspiration!