Behind The Print with Desi Ilieva | Being your own Boss and product design at DessiDesigns
On today’s Behind The Print feature here on TMF, I want you to 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 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?!
First of all, thank you so much for being part of the Behind The Print series. Tell us a bit about your artistic background. What led you to design unique artwork and create Dessidesigns?
Thanks for having me! Well, as a child I grew up loving arts but it wasn’t until my BA degree that I started being a bit more serious about it. After exploring different techniques at Uni, I found out that for me, the most compelling one was painting with watercolor. The way the pigments and colors mix and interact always creates an interesting and richer result. But I also use my skills from my degree as a graphic designer, to create the final artwork and make sure it actually works well in 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 color the elements before scanning and editing them to make sure they are good for print.
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 don’t think I had a specific idea of what my art would look like, but after a while, I found the one that brings me the most joy and I hope that people can see that in the end product. I love bright colors and fun little ideas that create a 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 that inspire me and help me evolve as an artist.
I can only attest to that. You just recently made the leap to work for your business DessiDesigns full-time. Was it the organic next step that you have always planned?
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 to 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 any negativity concerning your work? And if so, do you react to it?
To be honest with you in regard 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 realize that it is just me running the shop, but I also try to listen to 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!
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.
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 favorite print as such, but I often find work from different designers that I love that inspires 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 techniques used, the color 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.
That makes perfect sense. 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 into the process and all the effort and devotion behind DessiDesigns.
I would also love to hear your lovely reader’s thoughts on what other products and designs they would be interested in seeing in DessiDesign’s little shop.
Thank you for taking a peek Behind The Print with us today!
(All images courtesy of Desi Ilieva)
I love your designs! I would love to see something with dogs, all my dog lover friends and family would be so easy to shop for!
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! :)
I love your designs!!! I think you should have some bulldogs or pineapples. Can’t wait to see more of your designs!!
As a certified crazy cat lady, I’d love to see cat-themed designs!!