Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Excuse Me, I Need A Little Help

 Can I be honest with you? I’m stuck.

When I first started this blog it was done for the purpose of a self promotion module. I made a blog, updated it for three months, it got marked and that was the end of it. Except it wasn’t. Because this blog and following medias such as Twitter, Pinterest, etc have given me quite a lot of exposure. I’ve been in print, I’ve had my work printed on cushions and I’ve been lucky enough to converse with some highly regarded designers, a lot of which are now my friends. And this is all outside of school.

When I started this blog it was mainly an inspiration blog. I chose to write under by garlands because it speaks volumes and it departs the brand away from the person. At the time all of my peers were branding their blogs on their name so I took inspiration from byhanna and Birdy and Me. Garlands can’t be anything: flowers, pictures, paintings and that’s what my blog was. A little bit of my own work with some inspiration, fashion, even some music. Fast forward a few years and now this blog is about me. It has to be. May will mark the first time I’ve not been in education since I was four years old. That is twenty years. Twenty years of learning. And whilst I am interesting in knowing what is on the other side, for the most part I am very frightened mainly because the probable reality is me holding down a few bar jobs, spending every other minute of my free time working up patterns or illustrations to send off to agencies after applying for job after job after job. Because I haven’t got what is required in this industry: 1-3 years experience. If having this blog has taught me one thing, it’s the reality of licensing and freelance being that for a great portion of the time, people who want your designs will e-mail you and never get back to you. Because you’re one of hundreds they’ve e-mailed and I don’t know, maybe your designs weren’t good enough or maybe you just didn’t reply to the e-mail fast enough.

With that being said, a few marketing modules have taught me that branding is the most essential within the design business. I’ve hovered and wavered with this blog for the past few months because I don’t know where to take it. As of now I’ve cancelled my domain and am debating taking the garlands away and designing, publishing and tweeting under my real name, Charlotte Langstroth? This also brings on more problems. The first being that I don’t actually think I can continue referring to myself as a “textile” designer. The last time I worked with textiles was over two years ago. The only time I’ve ever had fabric printed is for swatch samples and cushions I’ve had made for me. I know a lot of surface designers I’ve come across, an example being Rachael Taylor, use designs, but are designs what I want to be selling? Over the past few months I’ve seen my work slowly step out of the design format into a more illustrative type. I only see this a positive. Illustration opens so many doors. And it’s also given me my new dream of being represented by Pekka (Finnish, of course).

The reason this all comes now is simply this: I walked past a shop window with my friend a few weeks ago and it was a sweet little shop, all white inside selling prints and cards and wraps and she said “I can see you having something like this”. And that is REALLY what I want! I want to be able to draw and license and sell and have a studio in Shoreditch or Bethnal Green with all the other art freaks and then license abroad and travel and take my macbook with me and just draw and produce. Now I’m getting carried away, but I don’t know how to do anything else. I’m not good at anything else. As Andy Warhol said, “I do art because I’m ugly and there is nothing else for me to do”.

So I guess what I’m asking is what do my drawings, illustrations and patterns say to you? Is it surface design? Or is it illustration? Should it be Charlotte Langstroth design? Or Charlotte Langstroth Illustration? Do you see them on wallpapers, interiors, upholstery or scattered on the pages of books or magazines? Is dropping the brand name and focusing on my own name a good step forward? Basically any advice you could give me would be so much appreciated. Whether I’m just on your blog reads, or you’re also a soon-to-be/current graduate or if you’re already branded or represented in any way. Help a very frightened, soon to be graduate. 

Feel free to leave a comment below or alternatively e-mail me
Thanks so much for reading

With love


  1. I can completely understand where you are right now. I'm coming to the end of my MA and it's a terrifying prospect. I'd love to be able to survive on freelance work and have my own little quirky studio (shared as freelance is lonely)but it's so difficult to get to that place!

    I graduated from a Fashion promotion BA roughly two years back and drifted in to bar work, attempted to do freelance (no one wants to pay), tried doing internships alongside the bar work (exhausting and no one pays) so I just coasted. I decided to do an MA in Illustration in the hope it would bring me more of a focus, but what really gave me focus and determination in the end was losing my bar job in January.
    I panicked and went on a desperate bar job hunt and thought fuck it. I hated working in a bar and never being able to fully concentrate on what I really wanted to and hoped to turn in to a career.
    I'm nowhere near where I want to be, but I'm hopefully getting there with a paid internship, paid part time design work and an increase in sales of my own stuff.
    Basically, if you can afford it, give yourself a bit of time to really concentrate on your work (which is lovely) get yourself out there and see what opportunities come your way - they do sometimes come from the most unexpected of places.

    As to your name, I wouldn't just completely change it as people will have come to associate your work with the brand, maybe incorporate it all together somehow? And I'd go with designs instead of illustrations, it doesn't limit it you as much and I could see them in print or as textiles really.

    Sorry, I've written you an essay. Fingers crossed we both get our little studios!

  2. Girl, I feel you soooo much on all of this. I'm at such a plateau with my blog right now because I cannot figure out how I want to bridge the gap when it comes to blogging for me, blogging for business, etc. etc. Soooo much soul searching.

    There's actually a really great podcast done by the Design*Sponge blog about branding that I think you'd love! The podcast is called After the Jump, and if I'm remembering correctly, the episode is called "Becoming Your Brand"... or something like that. It's only about 30 minutes, but it's AWESOME. I think it would really help you out with the naming thing because it directly addresses your issue of should you be Charlotte Langstroth Design vs Illustration vs. whatever else have you. As someone who also has a few unrelated offerings for my "business" - interior design, coding, piano... so random, so unrelated to each other - I've found it best to simply work under the umbrella of just my name (though I've been contemplating Kristin Butler Creative too)... something general so that it leaves room to expand into other interests and opportunities. It might limiting to just call yourself CL Design or CL Illustration if you eventually branched out into something else... food for thought. :)

  3. Hi Charlotte! From my point of view, you should do whatever you feel you have to do. But I believe that success only comes when your using your own name, that way people would recognize your work easily.
    Your style is so unique and beautiful and your drawings are... simply wonderful.
    Best of lucks!

  4. I see I missed a few episodes. Anyway...

    Well, I think many people are confused at that or similar point of their lives and that's fine (look at me, I'm working on my second MA because I'm 100% clueless as what to do with my own 'afterlife'...). I was once complaining over a beer to my friend that I'm so helpless and useless, and that I don't know what I want in life. She told me about her sister in law who barely graduated from law, never again wanted to do anything remotely connected with law, and how she was doing many things in life, and then, of all things to do, she started crocheting. She has her own company now, she sells her projects to many boutiques in PL and abroad. She even had a presentation of her works in London sometime ago (she said: when I came here first time, I came to clean other people's houses, and now I come to show my designs, it's mindblowing). Her general advice was not to worry and not to rush anything - she herself was over thirty when she knew for sure what she wanted to do.
    So, the point is (sorry for rambling), I don't think you really have to definitely define yourself just now, or that you have to stick to those tags you mentioned, after all, they're only a limitation. What matters is you, who you are, what your roots are. Just be yourself, see what works for you, or simply, make it work for you. I belive you can :)

    Oh, and whatever you decide, good luck :)