This post is part of a series on our blog that will introduce you to the designers and team members that work behind the scenes at Plain Digital Wrapper to make it a fun-loving, digi-family. We would love to get to know you better as well, so if you aren’t already hanging out with us in the forum, please take a moment to say good morning to us, introduce yourself, and find some inspiration from our many challenges!
This week we are shining our design spotlight on April Staker. You can find April on Facebook here or on her blog here.
April has been designing for about five years and originally joined the Plain Digital Wrapper design team in 2007 and was with us until 2009 when she took a little break to go back to school full time. She returned to PDW this past spring. She told us she got her start as a designer because she was a paper scrapper that wanted specific papers, colors, and themes and couldn’t find. “I am a fine arts major, and so I knew I could create my own stuff, but I started doing it on the computer so that I could have it printed. Some friends saw the papers and encouraged me to sell my papers so I started learning how to use CS2 better. That led to designing kits. I actually started by giving them away for free to some rubber stampers I was friends with! And that led me to forums with digital scrapbookers. I actually designed for about a year before I became a digital scrapper. It was hard to give up all the paper sitting in my cabinet… which is still in my cabinet….’
‘After discovering that digital scrapping made no messes on my tables, counters, floors, etc., I fell in head over heels. So it wasn’t long before I applied to a designer call. I actually took on too many stores when I first started and quickly realized I couldn’t keep up that pace. So I cut back to two stores. And then to just one, and PDW has been my favorite place for a while now!”
April shared the following with us:
Do you have any formal training in design? Yes and no. I have the fine arts career and schooling- so I have a lot of training in color theory, design, things like that. Most of my art training is actually oil painting, drawing, sculpture, things that don’t usually involve a computer. The computer end is all self-taught. I either play with CS2 until I figure out how to do what I want, or sometimes I can find a good book or tutorial that helps me sort it out. I play pretty well with computers, and I love the creative end of the process the best!
What was your favorite childhood toy or game? The swing set. I think back and wonder how I did not ever get a concussion from jumping off of them and having contests with my brothers to see who could go the furthest. *there were railroad ties that I remember seeing a little too up-close and personal* And I learned to do a lot of tricks on the bar across the top of the swing set. Again, not sure how I didn’t ever get any broken bones, or really any injuries. I must have had a whole army of guardian angels assigned to me.
Who is/was your nemesis? Myself. I know it sounds dumb, but sometimes I really am my own problem. Either I do too much at once and burn out, or I completely lack motivation. I also am terrible about being hard on myself, like I am my worst competition. Sometimes it does push me to do better, but sometimes I cause my own ruts.
What are your hobbies or pastimes? I love to try new things, so my hobbies and pastimes change. I tried snowboarding this last winter and fell in love (and fell a lot). I didn’t grow up by the mountains and the thought of flying down the side of one on a plastic covered slicked up piece of whatever it is scared me to death. But I had this terrible thought that because of my own fear my kids wouldn’t ever get the chance to try it, which seemed really lame. So I planned to take my kids and just “watch” from the bottom of the slope. My hubby laughed at me, and said, “you realize you have to go WITH them, right?” Since I had already told the kids I was taking them I was pretty much stuck trying it, too. And I am really glad I did!
I also love to garden. I have about a 5,000 square foot garden. I have chickens in there which I have come to just love to pieces. I grow lots of herbs, veggies, fruits and flowers. Nothing beats eating home grown food.
And lately, now that I am done with school for the moment, and not homeschooling my kiddos this year, I am spending a lot of time in my art studio. I teach classes and I am working on my own portfolio. I am hoping to have a lot of paintings and drawings done this year.
If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Purple-licious. I don’t think that is actually a color, but it would be a lovely shade of plum-ish purple. The kind that can actually be a cool or warm color depending on what is around it. And it would also be a little bit sparkly.
What is your favorite snack to scrap with? Diet Mountain Dew, and any number of chocolate treats I have been able to hide from my kids. Although, when I eat too much of the chocolate I need to balance the sugar with some salt, so then I have yellow corn tortilla chips… and then it is back to the chocolate to balance out the salt…
Do you sing in the shower/car? In the car, when my hubby isn’t there. The kids can be there, but not my hubby. I do not know why, I just get way more self -conscious when he is there.
What is your weakness? Sugar. All things sugar. mmmmmmmmm………
What are your favorite colors? Plum-ish purple, mustard yellow and a medium shade of gray. The plum-ish color has been my fave since like 4th grade. The others change frequently, the layers of paint in my homes will attest to this. I haven’t even mentioned to hubby how I’d like to repaint it all again…..
What is your biggest pet peeve? Hypocrites. I have serious issues with this. SERIOUSLY.
You just inherited the Witch’s Candy House from Hanzel and Gretel, what do you do now? Sell it to Willy Wonka.
Wii, Playstation, X-box or No, thank you? Yes. But I have to really watch it, I get totally addicted. I have the “just one more try and I bet I can do that” syndrome. And then the one more try turns into 5 hours later….. I do love karaoke with my family though!
Where do you get your inspiration from? Lots of things: photos I need to scrap, colors I like, something I saw outdoors, sometimes things just kind of “hit” me and I get ideas out of nowhere.
What one thing is essential for putting you in a creative mood? Not being stressed out is a major factor. I can be busy, but if I am stressed over thigns I have a really hard ime being creative. So if I am stressed and want to create taking a good hour long walk/jog with my dogs will set things right. It clears my mind (probably because I work things out in my head as we are out and about), and the exercise gives me a burst of energy that makes me just feel good.
What is your least favorite part of designing? Sometimes I totally burn out on a kit before I feel like I have enough elements. Sometimes it is because I am on a time crunch. Other times I just hit a wall and can’t focus. I never have that problem with papers and I think that only adds to my frustration.
What is your favorite part of designing? Papers, I LOVE making papers.
What was the hardest part about starting out as a designer? It hasn’t changed- it is still how to get your name out there and get your kits seen. When I started there were fewer designers and stores. But I was new and had to start from scratch. After I left to go back to school, and then came back everything was so different. Now it is mind-boggling how many stores and designers there are. I don’t even know where to begin. So this is a constant struggle for me.
If you had to have one color in every kit, what color would it be and why? White- it works with everything.
Do you use a tablet when designing? No. I bought a really nice Wacom, but I don’t love it. I like using real pencils when I draw and I never got that feel from the tablet. So it ended up making me more frustrated, and I quit using it.
What’s the scene when you design? Usually I am curled up in my nice leather office chair my hubby bought me. My computer is in my bedroom right now, which isn’t my fave. But I like being upstairs because it is warmer, and I get cold pretty easily. So I just sit in the chair curled up and my desk is covered in lots of papers reminding me of all the things I should be doing, but will get to later. And I will have a drink on the desk, and scrap paper and pens and pencils. Maybe my cell phone if I am worried my kids might need to get a hold of me for something. If I have been feeling lonely my Saint Bernard, Bear will be laying by me, and my golden retriever, Sammie will be curled up under the desk. There isn’t any music or noise, just quiet so I can do my best thinking with my right brain.
And then there are times when the kids are home, and it is chaos all around me. Those times are good, too, just not as productive! LOL!
Do you have a designated designing spot? If so, where? Well, since my computer for designing is not my laptop, I have a pretty designated spot in teh corner of my bedroom. It is next to my window, and through the window I have a killer view of a gorgeous mountain range and a lake, and a yard I should be weeding… but I can’t see the yard when I am in my chair, so I can pretend it is just perfectly manicured.
If you could only do one or other, would you rather design papers or elements? Papers. Because I am a paper hoarder. But I can hoard papers on my computer and I never have to explain why I have them. Hahahaha.
Here are some of April’s favorite things she has designed:
No. 10 – This kit is one of my favorites right now, partly because the latest kit usually is my favorite, but also I just had a lot of fun making it. It got to be a really big kit because I kept thinking of more things to add to it. Not many kits keep me entertained for that long! It may have something to do with the fun colors, or the summer theme.
Templates No. 4 - I love making templates. Some days my creative mojo is too tired to think of kit elements, but I love designing templates and a lot of times that can get me back in the groove for making kits.
Layout by Atusia using Templates No. 4 and Kit No. 8.
No. 9 – This kit is one of my favorite color palettes ever. I love the soft colors that are still bright and happy. It was fun to create with and worked really well for boys and girls, which I need when I scrap!
Layout by mommiakai.
No. 8 - This kit was kind of an end-to-summer kit. The colors reminded me of the transition from summer to fall. And I kind of took a more laid back approach with it. This time of year probably causes me to do reflecting on memories than any other time, and I still get that feeling from this kit.
No. 7 – I like the softer colors and theme of this kit. It reminds me of quiet moments, new babies, and just some of the simple pleasures of motherhood.
Layout by Stephanie.
April has created this template for you as a gift today. Use coupon code AprilBlogFreebie by September 21, 2011 to grab the template for free.