My Story
 

   

     

HOW I BECAME A SUCCESSFUL DESIGNER

SENIOR TEXTILE DESIGNER + PORTRAIT ILLUSTRATOR

from the beginning...

 

     

WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

    

OR READ ALONG...

 
Artist Since Always
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People always ask me how I knew I wanted to be a designer.  Well, dear.. take a look at the photo above. 

I've loved art ever since I was a little girl.  Here I am as a 4 or 5 year old on Christmas morning circa 1980-something coloring in my coloring book like a maniac while my sister patiently waits on me to play with her.

Do I look like I care?  Hah, I'm B-U-S-Y, girl.  Go play with the dog. 

Just kidding, of course!! (Sort of.) :D

 
 
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Not long after this my entire world shattered.  The day after my 6th birthday my Dad passed away.  Later in life, I learned that he was terribly depressed and took his own life. 

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Coming to grips with that as a teenager was extremely difficult.  My mom was my rock and my best friends were there for me one thousand percent through lots of tears and confusion. 

I dove head first - deep into an everlasting practice of life-sustaining spirituality and, of course, my art.

Soccer Timeline
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Here we are, the Poole girls trio, going strong and loving each other no matter what.

Here we are, the Poole girls trio, going strong and loving each other no matter what.

Cortona Italy Study Abroad

When I went to college, my heart was dead set on studying abroad and traveling to Italy. I'd taken art history in high school and in college, received a 5 on the AP exam.   I am no genius so I think it was just the fact that I loved art so, so, so much and I was kind of obsessed with it.

Learning about different artists that had been masters that had been successful intrigued me like no other. Seeing how these artists really shaped the art scene of today was just fascinating to me.

Study Abroad Cortona Italy

Looking back, I think I knew in my gut it was something that studying abroad in Cortona, Italy was something I desperately needed.  It was such an inspiring country.  I was meeting new people, I was connecting with other artists and I had laser focus on creating art a hundred percent of the time, which was huge for my growth as a designer.

Studio Art Major

Freshman year of college, I immediately knew I would major in Studio Art.  A lot of kids struggle with choosing a major, but not me.  Creativity was in my bones.  It inspired me and kept me strong. 

I graduated with a B.F.A. in Studio Art with a concentration in oil painting.  Skeptical of the student loans that graduate school required, I switched directions from Fine Art to Graphic Design. 

 

T-shirt designer

My first job was in South Carolina with a cool T-shirt company called Geneologie.  If you ever need custom T-shirts designed by amazing artists & illustrators you should check them out.  I met some of my best friends and will always be grateful for my very first big girl job!

Etsy Shop Design

During the four years that I worked at the T-shirt company, I opened an etsy shop.  I needed an outlet that involved more drawing and painting, and my original designs.

I ended up interviewing a lot of other artists and designers at my T-shirt job and I just needed to be creating something myself. So in my etsy shop, I sold everything from wedding invitations to tea towels, to greeting cards.

Then one day a customer asked if I could design a character illustration and I said yes, why not? So I posted the final design as an example in my shop and to this day I still sell tons of custom avatars for clients. It's been a really big part of my business online.

bye sc

I hit a ceiling at my T-shirt design job and decided that I really needed to move on. I really enjoyed drawing print and pattern designs and I had a little bit of that in my T-shirt design job. That was something I really latched onto.

So I started applying for jobs as a textile designer.  I received an offer in Atlanta and it really felt like a huge fork in the road. It was a hard decision to move away from South Carolina, my home.

But the longer I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't that scary, because if things didn't work out, I could always move back home. 

The experience of studying abroad and going away from home, even if it was just for a semester, really helped give me confidence in this decision. So I moved away from my current boyfriend and my friends and family and everything I knew to chase my dreams as a textile designer.

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In 2012, I applied with Surya on LinkedIn and landed my first role as a Print & Pattern designer (my 2nd big-girl job) in the home decor industry designing rugs, pillows, and other soft goods.

I learned so much about rug constructions, different types of yarn, textile history, and the entire home decor industry.

I went to High Point, Las Vegas, New York, and Germany for trade shows and just I was a total sponge soaking up all the knowledge I could. 

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So here are some photos of me hard at work styling the photoshoots for some of the products I had designed.

A lot of people tend to get confused about my job and they think that I am an interior designer and that's not the case at all. The functionality of Interior designers is choosing products to design a room, whereas I'm designing the PRODUCTS and soft goods that go into the room.

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I focused on designing hundreds of rugs and pillows and was promoted to Senior Designer for the Artistic Weavers brand.  I worked with an awesome team and together we were very proud of our achievements.  If you're in the market for rugs and/or pillows you can always search the Surya or Artistic Weavers brand on your favorite home decor sites such as Wayfair.

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Anthropologie rug designs

So I'm super excited that four of my rug designs are now selling at Anthropologie. That's any designer's dream! The Ralia rug on the left is a trendy, updated Persian design that is super cute and fresh colors. The Stella Rug on the right is for someone with more of a glam style. It's in black and white and the pattern is made up of oversized Dalmatian dots.

Anthropologie rug designs

The Rivera rug on the left is an abstract modern in neutral grays and golds.  The Felicity rug on there right is a printed watercolor design in fun lavender, pinks and blush reds.

West Elm rugs

Here's another modern design that's on West Elm's Instagram that has over 20,000 likes. When I saw this, I could not believe my eyes. I mean,  in your mind as a designer, you're still see yourself as nobody, but then there's this moment where you see so many people liking your stuff!  It's kind of a pivotal moment.  There's nothing more rewarding as a designer. 

Target Patio Rugs

My patio rug designs will be selling in Target stores next season. So I'm super excited to see those in stores! That'll be another kind of wow moment as a textile designer.

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Speaker 1:                    00:03               Hey, what's up fools, I'm Lauren Lauren, of Lauren Lesley studio, and today I want to tell you a little bit about my story, how I became a portrait illustrator and senior textile designer based out of Atlanta, but before we dive into the content, be sure to like this video, leave a happy comment or question subscribe to my channel and definitely stick around to the end because I have an awesome free download for you guys.

Speaker 2:                    00:35               So I'm super excited that four of my rug designs are now selling at anthropologie. That's like any designer's dream. Uh, the rally or rag on the left is a trendy, updated Persian design that is super cute and fresh colors. The Stella Rug on the right is for someone with more of a glam style. It's in black and white and the pattern is made up of oversized Dalmatian dots. The Rivera rug on this left is an abstract modern in neutral grays and golds and the felicity rag on there right is a printed watercolor design in fund lavender, pinks and blush reds.

Speaker 1:                    01:12               Yeah.

Speaker 2:                    01:13               Here's another modern design that's on West Elm's instagram that has over 20,000 likes. When I saw this, I could not believe my eyes. I mean, you know, in your mind as a designer, you're still kind of nobody and then you'd see people liking your stuff and it's just really rewarding as a designer and as a little bit of news, some of my patio rug designs will be selling in target stores next season. So I'm super excited to see those in stores. That'll be another kind of wow moment as a designer. So you may be thinking, how did she do it? Well, let's start at the very beginning.

Speaker 2:                    01:56               So here I am about four or five years old, sometime in the late eighties, coloring like a maniac in my coloring book. Wow. My sister is patiently waiting on me to play with her. I'm clearly in my own little world and I have to say not much has changed since then. I still look a lot like this when I'm at my computer designing or painting some watercolor designs or patterns. So not long after the Christmas that I just showed you a, my entire world shattered the day after my sixth birthday, my dad passed away. Um, later in life I learned that he was terribly depressed and took his own life. So that was extremely difficult growing up. But my mom was my rock and she always made sure that my sister and I had an extremely happy childhood.

Speaker 2:                    02:49               Here you can see how I grew throughout the year, kind of hilarious, hilarious timeline, thanks to soccer, you can see I'm in elementary school all the way up through high school. Uh, my best friends, you know, we're always there for me. And coming to grips with my dad's death as a teenager was extremely difficult. Uh, but my friends were there for me 1000 percent through a lot of tears and confusion. You know, when you lose a parent that young I, I'll say that you can't totally process the finality of it. So throughout your life you tend to grieve in waves. You know, when you become a teenager, you sort of understand a little bit more about what that means and that you're not going to get to see your dad again and that he's not going to be able to walk you down the aisle and your wedding and those kinds of things and you know, that you probably don't think about as a six year old or even understand.

Speaker 2:                    03:40               But I will say my mom did an amazing job raising us and the pool girls are still going strong. This is a cute photo of our little trio. Then when I went to college, my heart was dead set on studying abroad and traveling to Italy. I'd taken art history in high school and in college, um, got a five on the exam, which I am no genius. So I think it was just the fact that I loved art so, so, so much and I was kind of obsessed with it and learning about different artists that had been masters and had been successful. And it really shaped the art scene of today was just fascinating to me. Um, and so looking back, I think I knew in my gut it was something that I desperately needed. It was, you know, a plate. It was such an inspiring country. I was meeting new people, I was connecting with other artists and I had laser focus on creating art a hundred percent of the time, which was huge for my growth.

Speaker 2:                    04:40               So I'll say if you have the urge to travel somewhere and you feel like it's coming from a place deep within your soul, you know, not like petty comparison or that you want to have something cool to post on your instagram, but you feel deep in your soul that you are supposed to do this. Don't ignore it, listen to it, follow it with all of your might because this experience was life altering for me. And I know plenty of college students go to Europe and study abroad and it's not that big of a deal. But for me, coming from such a small town where, you know, with a family that never traveled outside of the US, um, it was a really big deal for me. So I came back to the US after this semester, more confident and more determined than I had ever felt in my life.

Speaker 2:                    05:27               I finished out my school, graduating with a bfa in studio art with a concentration in oil painting. So I had a lot of people in South Carolina, a lot of adults, you know, quote unquote adults that love to ask, you know, oh, well, what are you to do with that? And so I did have to make a decision when I graduated, you know, I could either go basically in two directions, um, I could either go to graduate school and get my Mfa, but it's still okay, well, what are you going to do as a job? Are you going to be a professor? You know, that's 10. That tends to be what people do with an MFA or I could pursue something a little bit more commercial, which was not what I was had been doing at school. And you know, when I was painting I was doing more portraits and um, I don't know, self reflective work.

Speaker 2:                    06:19               I'm not obviously not anything commercial, but I decided that not wanting to take out a gazillion dollars in student loans and yes, that impacted my decision. I'm not afraid to say I decided to take graphic design courses online and work as a nanny for a year, which I don't regret at all and not long after I landed my first job as a t shirt designer for a local Spartanburg company in South Carolina. In. During that four years that I worked at a tee, the tee shirt company, I opened an etsy shop. I think I needed an outlet that was still a little bit more. I'm drawing painting at my tee shirt job. I ended up interviewing a lot of other artists and designers and I just needed to be creating something myself. So on my. In my etsy shop I sold everything from like wedding invitations to tea towels, to greeting cards. Then one day a customer asked if I could design a character illustration and I said yes, why not? So I posted the final design as an example in my shop and to this day I still sell tons of custom avatars for clients. It's been a really big part of my business online.

Speaker 2:                    07:33               So at my tee shirt design job, I kind of hit a ceiling and decided that I really needed to move on. I really enjoyed drawing print and pattern designs and I had a little bit of that in my tee shirt design job. And so that was something I really latched onto. So I started applying for jobs as a textile designer. I learned that that was something that you could do for a job, which I didn't really know before. Um, I received an offer in Atlanta and it really felt like a huge fork in the road. It was a hard decision to move away from South Carolina, my home. But the longer I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't that scary because if things didn't work out, I could always move back home. And I think they experience of studying abroad and going away from home, even if it was just for a semester really helped give me confidence in this decision as well. So I made the decision to move away from my current boyfriend and my friends and family and everything I knew to chase my dreams as a textile designer.

Speaker 2:                    08:36               And in 2012 I started my second big girl job as a textile designer for Syria, a prominent wholesaler of rugs, pillows, and home decor. I learned so much about ruck constructions, different types of yarn, textile history, and the entire home decor industry. I went to high point Las Vegas, New York, etc. Germany for shows and just I was a total sponge soaking up all the knowledge I cut. So here's some photos of me hard at work stylinG the photo shoots for some of the products I had designed. So a lot of people get confused when I try to explain my job and they think that I am an interior designer and that's not the case at all. Interior designers have more of a. or their functionality is more of putting products together in a and they design a room, whereas I'm the, I'm designing the products that go into the room.

Speaker 2:                    09:32               However, I did work with our photographers to style their products in such a way that it made it easy for interior designers to visualize and put together or for the end consumer who's shopping online to visualize these products in a room and get an idea of what they could put with these rugs or pillows or with their furniture. So I, I designed everything from easy transitional home decor and soft goods to like high trend, tribal and boho collections. I worked on everything from machine made rugs to flat. We've rugs to woven rugs to natural fibers to hand knotted to hand tufted all across the board. I learned so much about all the different reconstructions and still love being innovative in that arena. I do have some product development in my job description as well, so I help come up with rug constructIons and new developments in rugs and pillows.

Speaker 2:                    10:29               But in the meantime, my side hustle has also grown tremendously. I have started my own website, laurenlesley.com, and I sell tons of pre-made clip art, so remember back in 2011 when I started my etsy shop and someone asked can you design a custom avatar for me? And I said yes, and I posted it in as an example in my shop and started selling those. Well because I was still working full time. I didn't always have as much time as I wish I had had to service customers one by one, so I decided to create a ton of pre clip art and and have that available for customers to just download a as a super cheap option number one and a super fast option. Like you can literally have it immediately. So I have three different poses. I'm in each clip art listing and it's just. Yeah, and it's an incredibly affordable way to create a logo or a professional brand for yourself if you are a solopreneur or have a small business. They also work as amazing graphics for websItes, blogs, and different marketing materials. I've also started a podcast called the design tribe, which is available to listen to on itunes and spotify. Super exciting and fun. I love absolutely love doing this podcast and an exclusive facebook group for our creative entrepreneurs and designers that you should totally join

Speaker 1:                    12:00               now. If you've stuck around this long, you totally deserve a prize. To get my ultimate 2019 trend guide for free research, you like this video? Again, leave a comment. please subscribe to my channel and look in the description below to download the link. Thank you so much for watching. I'll see you in the next video.