At the risk of being a little redundant, this is actually the copy from the original “About” page. I kind of liked the flow of the interview, format borrowed from DigiShopTalk, so for posterity it is retained in it’s entirety… therefore … Welcome to Anita Richards Designs, Digital Scrapbooking at its finest … here we have the ubiquitous and somewhat obligatory page: About Anita Richards Designs.
Sometimes I can’t help but feel that About pages are a superfluous and irrelevant corporate expectation and yet, from a purely business perspective, they do actually serve a purpose.
Apparently, the act of writing an About page helps to coalesce thoughts and creates the focus for the website.
In fact, I do indeed have crystal clear vision of what I want to achieve but not necessarily yet have the words to express that vision here on the About page.
Nonetheless, I will post what I currently have written which is more of a self-interview / All About Me journaling exercise.
Then I will return with the Business Spiel that one would expect to find on this page, once I have it completed.
Enjoy the reading.
An interview with the Designer: Anita Richards, up close and personal.
Where does your designer name come from?
When I first started designing in 2005 initially I released my work as DigiVixen. Then I rebranded as Anita Stergiou Designs up until my website was attacked and damaged by hackers in early 2009.
Then the middle of 2009 saw a series of sudden and disastrous upheavals in my family situation that led to me relaunching and rebranding as Design by Anita. However, most of my client base were still embroiled in the depths of the US financial crisis and I found it extremely challenging to regain lost ground with my patrons and eventually it all fizzled and I closed up shop again in 2013.
Fast forward to 2019, older and wiser, with a heck of a lot more experience under my belt, I am not only rebranding my design style but reinventing my life from the ground up.
So to answer the question “where does your designer name come from”, I’ve given deep thought to what it means to me to be an artist, what I feel today’s western world values and undervalues, what our modern lives are losing touch with and how I can reflect the values that I hold dear from the physical creation of tangible art (or “in real life art” as some call it), drawing that into the computerised art that I create.
Essentially I am a solitary digital artisan: Anita Richards Designs.
Tell us about your family.
Currently I am traveling on this bauble of rock, water and gas on my own as a location independent digital entrepreneur.
Married for over twenty years, my husband gifted me with two amazing teenage sons who are more dear to me than anything else in this universe.
Sadly their dad died a little over 6 years ago and it hit me kind of hard. It hit my sons even harder of course and we started home schooling to support their needs to get through that time.
Then the most devastating thing I could ever have nightmares about happened; my brother took his own life.
After that I just went into a nose dive, an unbraked tail spin downwards. Life was incredibly cruel. However, it doesn’t rain every day and life does go on … thankfully as at this writing I’m now 100% focused on rebuilding my business to create the home and life of my dreams.
In a nut shell, my family numbers three: my two amazing sons, named Logan and Taran, and I.
Tell us about your design journey. How long have you been designing? What program do you use?
In late-autumn 2005 … that is in May for the folks from the northern hemisphere … I was working on creating a WYSIWYG website in Microsoft Publisher about my first son’s NICU journey and was looking for some cool fonts.
This led me to a mostly paper scrapbooking website called TwoPeasInABucket.com where I discovered this thing called digital scrapbooking. Sadly, TwoPeas closed a few years ago now.
OMGoddess! They had digital layouts!
For me, a girl who loves using computers and playing with colours and images, that was it! It was a doorway into whole new world and I was immediately smitten.
I started out creating layouts using an old imaging program called Microsoft PhotoDraw and then got stuck into a little bit of freebie designing. In late 2005 I released my first freebie kit Baby’s First Christmas to honour my second son’s first Christmas and my first son’s second Christmas. 8D
It was a ringing success with well over 2000 downloads in a very short time span … at that time digital scrapbooking was still in its “scraped knees kid” stage, so that many downloads was MASSIVE.
I look back at the layouts that I created using that kit now and …
… whilst I don’t quite cringe with embarrassment when I look back at them because actually it wasn’t too bad of a kit for a first release …
… I am, however, transported to another time and place.
I can still feel myself sitting in that office chair in front of that old computer with a tiny monitor, rocking either one or the other of my sons to sleep, as I was either scrapping or designing … because I was in love with my family and in love with digital scrapbooking. I loved every moment.
The first store that I sold my work through was Natural Designs in Scrapbooking with Theresa Trageser-Hernandez who is a truly amazing and inspiring woman.
That was 15 years ago and a brilliant experience… I can hardly believe I just said that! lol
Today I am using the Adobe Creative Suite and loving every pixel of it.
I still don’t really know how to code a website (well, I can kind of muddle a few lines of code together) so I now rely on WordPress to create my website which nowadays has WYSIWYG designing capabilities … amazingly I feel as though I have come full circle.
They say that you should find what you love in life and let it kill you … for me that’s my kids and digital scrapbooking.
Time to begin anew.
What part of designing comes easiest to you (themes, colours, papers, elements?)
Getting started is relatively easy and once I have settled on a colour scheme and theme usually my designing process just flows … the colours sometimes take a while to finalise though.
It’s really just about developing pieces that are unique, beautiful, compelling and as realistically lit and imbued with life as possible.
I strive to put emotion and love into each piece even the ones that perhaps jangle and provoke discordant feelings; actually it’s those awkward and disturbing pieces that have the most love in them because we all have times in our lives when everything turns to shit and we feel like shit and everything feels like it’s just shit …
Basically for me designing is about empowering my patrons to capture from their photographs, from their memories, to use those captured feelings and recollections to imbue into their layouts the unique nuances of their lives; good, bad, beautiful, ugly, loving and indifferent.
Having said that I think that the element I love designing the most, the one that I find the easiest to bring to fruition is flowers. I always pay extra special attention to my flowers; I strive to create them in such a way that they feel as though they are ready to float across the page if a breeze were to waft in through the window.
What part of designing is most challenging to you?
Because I currently only have my iPhone to photograph with I am finding that shooting quality high definition images of my element pieces, a challenge of gargantuan proportions.
Getting the lighting right is the key to tackling this and I’ve built a customised light box to ensure that the lighting quality, tone, strength and direction is consistent across all of my designs.
I love sharp captures … but also not so sharp that they poke your eye out when you look at them when printed. lol
What inspires you?
At the risk of this sounding cliché, my greatest passion is my children of course, but talking from the design perspective I draw inspiration from all sorts of places.
From soft furnishings and interior design, to fine china and porcelain and pottery, to bedding and other linens, to quilt designs, to fine art, to the natural world and flowers and the life in our oceans, to music and songs and poetry and good books, to movies and theme parks, to party decorations, to the clouds in the sky and the trees on the horizon, to world heritage listed sites and ancient artifacts, to haute cuisine and decorated cakes, to an early morning desert sunrise and the lens of our galaxy by night … the list of possibilities for inspiration is endless.
Ultimately though, I have only one inspiration that really matters and that inspiration is filled with love; the love of doing what I love doing.
If you’re running low on design mojo, where do you go to kickstart your creativity?
Where do I go to kickstart my creativity if my design mojo is running low? … I go out for a long drive … Anywhere.
And when I say long I mean loooooooooong!
Perth to Sydney overland is definitely on the radar again … soon.
Where is the farthest you have been from home?
2017 and 2018 were my Highway of Healing years when I spent a large portion of my time driving around Australia on a home schooling road trip so I guess that all told that’s the furthest since it added to over 30,000km.
An epic journey through a country that has vast numbers of beautiful and varied climates and ecosystems, it was an amazing and awe inspiring journey that I plan on repeating … often.
In 2019 too I spent most of my time traveling mostly in the outskirts of the Perth metropolitan region with a few country jaunts in between, although my children are no longer with me.
By air the furthest from my home in Sydney was to my family’s villages of origin: my mother was from the Piedmont region just a little bit south of the Italian alpine region in northern Italy, and my father from the heart of Herzegovina, Croatia.
Beautiful; my most vivid memory of that trip was in Italy meeting fireflies for the first time.
What has been the greatest compliment you have received about your designs?
That they are used by people to preserve their precious memories. That’s pretty darned special!
Life is fleeting and the fact that someone feels a connection to my art and uses it in their pages … that is the most amazing compliment. This is one of the reasons I do not expect praise; it is enough for me to know that my art is appreciated.
However, I remember a comment once that someone could feel the raw power emanating from one of my scrap pages. That was both unexpected and surprising on a number of levels.
How much time do you allocate to designing in a typical week?
Ideally I spend 2-3 hours of dedicated time every day working purely on my art, more if I’m in the flow on something and want to stay in the mojo … essentially anywhere from around 14 hours upward … probably a lot more because when I’m in the zone it’s entirely possible to lose track of time.
What is the latest you’ve ever stayed up to finish a design or scrap?
Back in the early days when my sleep patterns were classified as irregular to non-existent because the kids were still so little, I used to routinely pull all-nighters and then have a few hours sleep here and there when I could …
… I have been known to fall asleep whilst sitting in front of the keyboard and monitor whilst waiting for a file save to complete. lol
Show us your first page and your all time favourite layout.
My first page was fairly simple, it was a two-page spread in fact, and I tried to use a few techniques that I was seeing in the gallery at TwoPeasInABucket.com; credits are unknown as I lost all the files in a hard drive crash.
My all time favourite layout is this one of my sons’ combined birthday party in 2008 … so much fun.
What magazines do you subscribe to, scrap or non-scrap related?
I don’t actually subscribe to any printed magazines now a days.
However, I love Australian Geographic, Home Beautiful (amongst other home magazines) and Scientific American. Also The Yoga Journal has graced my coffee table together with Wellness Magazine.
… and then there is this magazine style layout that I created for Designer Jodi Patterson when I was on her Creative Team ~ so cute, so fun!
What’s your favourite snack to have handy while you design?
Toasted nori with garlic and sea salt, I have a passion for seaweed snacks. If not nori then, kale chips … good thing I know how to make them myself because the ones I make at home taste sooooo much better than store bought.
Favourite TV show?
Right now I’m loving The Orville which is kind of a Star Trek spoof without being too Space Balls if that makes sense … anyone who remembers going to see the earliest Star Wars movies when they were first released at the cinemas will understand what I mean.
Slippers or barefoot?
Depends on the weather and what type of floor, but usually barefoot …
… unless there’s an über cool pair of shoes that I just happened to accidentally on purpose scoop up at the op shop involved.