Please help me in welcoming Leslie Woods Meyers of My Painted Porch for this edition of Art Stories.
Q. Hi Leslie, thank you for taking the time to chat with me about your business. Can you tell me, what does it mean to you to be an independent designer?
I love that I answer to myself only, which sometimes translates to being my own worse enemy because I can be really demanding of myself at times. But on the flip side of that, having creative freedoms to make choices that only I have to suffer the consequences of or reap the rewards from is the big pay-off. If I spend time putting an idea into motion, from start to finish, and it's a well-met one, then nothing can be more gratifying.
The old adage ‘it's in the journey’ really holds true for anyone slightly creative and working for themselves...playing with an idea and the process in getting there, that ends with a finished product in hand and one you are proud of. You and you alone decide from there where you will take it and it is you alone who is solely responsible for your success. So it's not any one thing in particular...it's the whole thing. I love that I’m on my own clock, can do my graphics work and correspondence in pj’s, that I can structure my schedule around my 3 yr old (and 23 yr old), my husband’s sometimes very long workdays and just what works for us. I can't imagine ever working for anyone else again...I'd probably be the nightmare employee after having been independent for so long.
Q. Can you tell us what inspires your designs?
So many things inspire me on a daily basis. It can be a time of year, or a sentiment coming from a moment with the big love of my life who is European and ever so romantic. Many of my designs come from memories of our travels together...places we've seen, food or music we've experienced, a mood or an ambiance I can remember like it was yesterday...snapshots in my mind of a moment, memories of my childhood.
I used to spend countless summer vacations visiting with my grandparents on their farm. I remember so well, my grandmother, whom I loved dearly...adored, singing me to sleep while I lay in her big old cast iron bed. It would be so hot and humid where all of the upstairs windows of the old farmhouse would be open, and there were these sheer panels on the windows that would flutter with the breeze coming off of the Miramichi River which ran almost at her front door, and all you could hear was the running water, the crickets, her song and the sound of my own breath as I fell to sleep. I remember the green enamelware ashtray that used to sit on the seat of the chipped painted chair next to the bed that was used to hold our chewing gum before she tucked us in. The ashtray was a vintage green, and was from a tavern my grandfather had been to. The colour of that ashtray was the inspiration behind the Vintage Garden and Le Jardin signs. The inspirations never dictate anything exactly in whole, but in part and the rest just evolves from there until there's a finished piece
I spend a great deal of time in trying to get to know my customers...their
lifestyles, their families, their likes and dislikes, preferred styles, exactly what it is they're trying to capture, the environment a sign would be going into. That is not an easy feat when you consider that all is done by e-mail and it all takes time. That's what it is to have an online business as an artisan. A large company just does not have the manpower or personal vested interest in trying to arrive at each individual's needs. It's not cost effective and they therefore, can’t offer it. I like to consider myself more an artisan where what I do is more of a creative process than a production.
I take the time that is needed, because it matters to me, and I believe our customers appreciate it because in the end, they get what they envisioned and it means something. Yes, we have our regularly carried stock items, which are all also lovingly created by hand, but when a customer comes to you with a special request, which is a very large portion of what we do, you have to be prepared to listen, to really hear, and to take pride enough in your work and your business, not just as artisan but as a business owner, to ensure that your brand, reputation and service are synonymous with truly caring about quality and sincerity in all projects that you take on.
popular this wedding season?
Our Sweetest Moments line includes so many wonderful and whimsical signs. We do sell many of the stock items such as the Mr. and Mrs. sets, Guest Book signs, etc but what sells really well for us, are the signs that speak a sentiment that brides relate to. It doesn't have to be blatantly personalized to be personal, as long as it's something they hold dear to their hearts for whatever reason. That's where I believe our strengths are in what we do. Whether it be in the text style or specific font used, the classic colours of the sign, or the phrase itself, it has to be something that evokes something within the couple that has personal meaning or significance to them.
Weddings are all about traditions of the past. No matter what trends come and go, we almost always include the tradition of the wedding procession, exchanging of vows, carrying a bouquet, having attendants, a reception of some kind for our guests afterwords, a photographer to capture the moments. There’s a real longing with almost all brides to include pieces of the past with current trends and themes. They don't want what is necessarily the trend by the book. They look for ways to add personal touches that reflect who they are. A wedding is an extremely personal and monumental moment in a woman’s life and she will search ways of blending practicality with romantic notions, whimsy and ‘personal’. My belief is that this season or any other, when it comes to planning your wedding or any other aspect of your life for that matter as a woman, aside from etiquette, there is no right or wrong as long as it says, it’s uniquely you.
Please visit Leslie at her website to order signs at My Painted Porch.