Hey everyone, I'm really thrilled to be introducing the first in my Paperchain interviews. Have a read here to see what it's all about and how it's going to work. I really want these to be good, well thought out interviews, so we can all gain from them. But they'll be personal too, as each person in the chain asks the questions that interest her the most.
I thought hard about who I wanted to interview, I wanted to ask someone whose work I really admire and who is making the kind of products and doing the kind of collaborations I'd love to be doing when the kids are a little bit older.
So I chose Elisabeth Dunker, who you may know from the blog Fine Little Day. I loved her honest answers, especially about the realities of collaborating on projects. But I hope she doesn't give it all up to become a house-wife just yet! Happy reading.
When I moved to Gothenburg in the beginning of the 90's I got a job as a TV photographer, which I worked as for about 10 years. It was a fun and rewarding job mostly. However I had an urge to express myself creatively in several ways.
I drew a lot, even at work. A kind colleague who noticed my engagement suggested that I should apply to the University, School of Arts and Craft. I thought it sounded interesting so I applied and was accepted. I was 33 years old then and had two children. After I had my master in design I wanted to try my wings. Parallel with my new life as a designer I started blogging. From the beginning I was just fascinated about the possibility to share. After a while I started to appreciate the communication and the kick blogging gave me. It took not long before I got hooked. Blogging and the career has gone hand in hand. Things have moved on.
Tina's talk is a brilliant manifesto. For me it's the self-initiated projects that feels like something I do a little on the side, all of them ha ha. But that's what I feed on these days, the self-initiated ones. So it's been good growths.
I work broadly. I believe it's mostly because I don't plan things, I just do what I feel like and stumble on. The best thing with working the way I have done over the years is that I have been able to be close to the kids during their childhood. I have been able to control my time. It has actually been the most important thing for me. The bigger and more independent they have become, the more projects I have taken on. I worked much lesser when they were smaller. The hectic and fragmented parts have only been overly burdensome in periods ;) But I have said it for years now, it would be great to be able to settle down a bit. Can't tell you how much I would love to become a "house wife".
Oh I don't compartmentalize the time at all. I work here and there, sometimes all the time. And nowadays also with the kids around. I involve them in work as well. Ask them what they think, show them stuff and discuss with them. They are also helping me in the studio sometimes. None of them want to work as a "culture worker" when they grow up. It has been a lot of juggling, and still is.
I agree with you that business can affect they way you are thinking (often in a boring way) when working. For me it's especially obvious when I'm working with assignments. But then it's often a part of the tasks. It can also affect my own work. I have a hard time working and calculating profitability at the same time. So I try not to think to much, in general.
Actually I'm a terrible business woman. I remember how provoked I was when people talked about "when you become rich and famous." That has never been a goal for me. I always said that I will be satisfied as long as can manage to feed the family and get us roof over our heads as long as we can be together much. I said it determined, visionary and a bit naive. Things are getting easier when you don't have to count every coin. Both me and my husband have studied for years. It is only in the recent years we have been able to get a car and not think too much when we are shopping for groceries. Two years ago we even bought a summer house. We feel very rich today, even though it might not be in an economic sense.
My shop and business has taken off good now though. I can see a clear potential in it. But you do need to know how to manage things to get it rolling. Me, a dyscalculian with no sense at all for either numbers or economy, can say that I'm not doing a super intelligent job with that part.
When I first considered adding ads on the blog I didn't like the feeling the thought gave me. I thought it would affect my lust to blog in a negative way. That I would feel haunted and forced to put up blog posts just to satisfy the sponsors. I was also afraid that my readers would not like it. After a couple of years and much thought, I realized that I was still blogging in a frequent way and that I had the urge to go on with it. The ads had become more and more common over the web and at blogs, so it felt like a good time to try if it could work for me as well. I began hosting sponsorships that I felt to be right for me and my readers. At first it felt a bit awkward I must admit, but after a while the good feeling of being able to contribute financially to my family by doing something that I love was stronger.
I guess it depends on what your goal is for your business. If you want to grow your company a lot in a short time you should probably make up economical plans and take some financial risks. If you are not in a big hurry and want to have more fun (as I see it) you could do what I've done – grow the company rather slow and organically and then when you have a pretty solid ground to stand on, you'll manage without taking any bigger risks.
It's nothing I think of really. I guess my cultural identity does affect me but I'm not sure in what way.
I like to think that I go my own way. But I'm getting brain-washed as everyone else. And I don't think I mind either. It's fun with trends. Can be boring and make you want to puke sometimes. But in general trends are interesting in my opinion. You don't have to follow, observing is fun.
Actually I'm in the middle of a collaboration now, with a company I really respect and admire. I feel very satisfied.
Thanks so to much Elisabeth! I loved reading her answers. How she really hasn't over-thought her career and it's just growing organically, which is how I feel about my work. Grabbing fun opportunities and going with the flow.
I'd love to know if this interview inspired you. Let me know what you think in the comments.
Photos by kind permission of Elisabeth Dunker