Name: Robin Ott
Location: Orrville, Ohio
Years with Minted: 4
Expertise: Mid-century meets organic. Equally adept at painting and drawing.
Occupation: Watch designer turned freelance graphic designer, Mintie, Mom to two little ones.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
My high school was fortunate to have an ambitious art instructor, who introduced his students to so many opportunities related to the arts. He often invited local artists to visit and share their real-life work experiences with our class. I remember very specifically when my “ah-ha” moment occurred after a freelance, graphic designer came to our class and shared her story. I remember thinking that would be my “dream job”. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my dream came true. Anytime I get discouraged or in a creative rut, I remind myself that I’m living my dream.
I went to school for Computer Animation at the Art Institute of Dallas. My 3-D training and feminine style helped me land a job at Fossil, Inc. designing watches and accessories. I collaborated with other designers on brands like Armani, DKNY and Nike. It was so much fun that it didn’t even seem to be “work”. I returned to Ohio and started my freelance business in 2003, and I slowly transitioned to graphic design, forming several long-lasting relationships with clients that I still work with today.
How would you describe your style?
My style is a bit eclectic. I love mid-century design and I tend to have a retro influence in some of my work, but the majority of my style is earthy and organic with a feminine flair.
Tell me about one of your designs for sale on Minted and how it came together.
I love my wedding suite “Quite Simply” and while designing it I felt like it could have been our own wedding invitation when my husband and I got married. Our wedding was at my parents home, a quiet ceremony in their shade garden and a backyard reception with our closest friends and family. Very earthy but still a sophisticated. Minted recently added additional day-of wedding pieces to the suite, which is very exciting for me!
How does living in Ohio influence your work?
I am endlessly inspired by the landscapes of my home nestled in America’s heartland. I’m definitely a Midwestern girl at heart because when I lived in Texas I found myself longing for the changing seasons and landscape of Ohio. I design very organically and feel my best work incorporates nature or elements of nature. I tend to simplify shapes and colors to create a fresh, modern twist for my designs. And ever since I was young I’ve had been drawn to barns–the older the better–rich with texture and character. My Rural Midwest painting is modern interpretation of a barn near my home and celebrates the juxtaposition between the new and old of the rural Midwest landscape. I hope to continue painting a series of my favorite local barns soon.
How do you balance all the different parts of your life and work?
That’s a good question! As a mom of two young children, ages 5 and 16 months, I’m constantly struggling with a healthy balance between work and life. I’m so fortunate to work from home and have a flexible schedule. I work a lot during naps or when my older one is at pre-school. He starts kindergarten in the fall, so I think that will allow me to have more time to focus on my business and work-related goals I want to accomplish in 2014. Our family is an amazing support system, too.
What is a typical day like for you?
My typical day starts by 7:00 a.m. I like to be up and ready before my youngest wakes up. Now that school is out, I’m enjoying our relaxed mornings and breakfast with the kids. Our sitter or a family member usually arrives shortly after that to care for them and I’ll head up to my office. I spend some time going through emails and social media to shake off the morning craziness and focus on the day ahead. I prioritize my deadlines and check in with clients as needed and then dig into my work. I’ve been known to work through lunch a lot, but I’m trying hard to take a break and eat away from the computer or meet a friend for lunch. I used to think I was wasting time by doing this, but honestly it makes me more productive to step away and take a breather. Around 4:00 to the time my husband gets home is usually spent outside with the kids or errands, then dinner, baths and bed. If I have a creative burst or a deadline, I’ll work an hour or two before calling it quits for the day. I’m a bit more creative at night, so any concepts and sketching usually happens after dark. However, I try hard not to do this too much as I get older it seems harder and harder to recover the next day!
As an independent designer, how do you self-motivate / stay on track?
Regarding time management, the only way I can get through my day is with hand written lists – a lot of them! I try to use my calendar app on my phone, but I have a need to physically cross items off to feel closure of accomplishing a task. I’m kind of a notebook junkie and have to pick up a new one each time I go to Target.
My motivation has definitely been elevated since I started designing for Minted. Every day I am inspired by other Minties, which then motivates me to push myself more as a designer.
What designers do you really admire?
There are so many, but have a huge affection for Charlie Harper. Vera Neumann and Diane Von Furstenberg. I also admire an Ohio artist/designer, Amy Butler. She is an amazing print designer and seamstress. I love her fresh prints and modern patterns for home and fashion. Oh, if only I could sew!
What advice would you give a new designer?
Never give up! Keep submitting and after time the designs and sales will start accumulating. Unless you are a rock star right out of the gate, which I imagine many Minties are! I’ve been with Minted since 2008, and I’ve taken some breaks as well as having some creative dry spells, but my sales are better now than they have ever been. I think consistency is good, but don’t be afraid to try a new approach or style. You never know what you are capable of until you try it and Minted is a wonderful platform to take some risks that you might not normally get to experience.
Photo credit on all images: Tess Smith Photography
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