This week the Silhouette Design Store is having a sale on all Samantha Walker designs! If you’re unfamiliar with her work, she offers thousands of incredible and adorable designs and projects. We wanted to learn a bit more about Samantha and her experience as a designer and crafter. Enjoy the interview and take advantage of the Design Store sale this week!
Where are you from?
All over! I grew up in San Jose, California. I’ve lived in Montana, Colorado, Japan, Washington, and Utah. I’m now in Lakeland, Tennessee. I love it here; I don’t miss the snow at all!
How long have you been a Silhouette user? Which machine is your favorite?
I’ve been using the Silhouette since 2009. I like the Cameo. The wide format gives me the options I need for 3D designs.
What type of crafting is your specialty? How is your personality reflected in your work?
I’m a paper crafter who dabbles in fabric. My personality is multifaceted, and I share too much detail about myself with strangers! My designs kind of follow that rhythm. I love to design in multiple ways: 3D, cards, vinyl—you name it! I also like things to be symmetrical and neat, but I love details. That’s where I get lost in my designs and really have fun.
When did you join Silhouette artist team?
I’ve been here since 2009 when it was still a beta project. I’ve been designing off and on over the years due to life circumstances. I’m so grateful Silhouette has been so flexible!
What other creators have been inspirational to you in your work?
I have lots of artists I admire. Henri Matisse (his paper cutting years especially). I enjoy detail from the Art Nouveau period. I love the art of Japanese paper cutting—wow detail—and cut by hand! I am also a big fan of the outdoors, and I’m an avid birder. (Someone who watches birds, and records bird sightings for citizen science on a website called ebird.) Yes, I’m a nerd! So birds are a big part of design inspiration for me—colors, shapes, patterns; you’d be amazed at how many beautiful birds are around you.
Tell us about your graphic design career. How did you get your start?
I have a BFA in illustration design. I set out to be a children’s book or editorial illustrator, but that’s not where my path led me. After having my first child back in 2002, I naturally got into the scrapbooking craze. I entered a few contests and won a spot on a magazine design team (some people might remember Memory Makers Magazine). I soon was designing for several other paper craft magazines. While it was enjoyable work, it wasn’t lucrative. I knew I could turn my talent into a career, so I started mocking up product and paper designs for the craft market. I flew to a trade show to share my ideas, and Creative Imaginations signed a contract with me. Shortly after, I was designing for several manufacturers, including die cuts for Spellbinders, paper crafts for Carta Bella, fabric for Riley Blake, rubber stamps for various companies, greeting cards, and even did some work for a home decor company. Somewhere in there I connected with Silhouette. I’m so glad I did as they remain to be one of my favorite manufacturers to design for. While it isn’t the road I had set out on in the beginning, I’m very happy that the craft market is where I landed. There’s a lot of play involved in this type of design, and the creative possibilities are endless.
What was the first design you created?
I can’t remember what my first design for Silhouette was—that was a long time ago—but I do remember trying out all kinds of designs in the beginning. To be honest, some of the designs were rough. There was definitely a learning curve while I became proficient in vector design. Once I had a good handle on the software, I spent time discovering what my favorite things were to design. I really enjoy trying to figure out a 3D project. There is a ton of time involved in creating one, and I always come across problems that need to be solved to create the idea that I have in my mind. There’s a lot of cutting, and the whole design goes through a lot of trial and error before it’s ready to upload to the Design Store. I also enjoy creating intricate lace-like patterns. I love geometry, and the surprise effects that can happen when you rotate shapes and lines to create a design. It’s kind of therapeutic.
What is your favorite thing about what you do?
I love that I can work from home. This is a blessing and a curse. I have to find a balance between design time and family time. I haven’t always gotten the balance right over the years, and that’s why some years I have more designs and other years I do not. I’m coming into a season of my life again where you should be seeing a little more from me.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out?
If you are new to the Silhouette machine, don’t be discouraged by the learning curve. Start with cutting simple one-piece designs. Learn what works for different types of paper, and then branch out into more complicated designs. Learn how to manipulate things in the Silhouette Studio® software. The Silhouette blog (Silhouette 101) should be your go-to place for any of your how-to questions about the software. They do a fabulous job showing you all kinds of possibilities, and they know all the latest tricks in the new software updates. Talk with other crafters. Join a Facebook group for Silhouette users, listen to seasoned crafters. And as you learn more, share your experience!
How many designs do you have in the Silhouette Design Store? What are your most popular designs?
Thousands. People seem to like my 3D designs—especially my purse designs. You can expect to see more of those now that my studio is set up in my new home in Tennessee.
Why do you do what you do? Why did you decide to become a SDS artist?
The bottom line is that I’m a people pleaser, and I like to make people happy. I see people making stuff with my designs, and they are proud of their creations. They use my designs to decorate their homes and make cards and party favors. I’m honored that they would choose my designs for their projects, which allows them to have some creative joy.
How do you overcome creative blocks?
I like to go outside and enjoy taking a walk to stew over ideas. I like to go to new places, which help get my creative juices going. We are all inspired by what we see, and you never know how your experiences will affect your designs until something gives you that spark.
What has been the most amazing moment you’ve experienced as an artist?
I can’t narrow it down to one single moment, but I absolutely love to get together with other artists. The craft industry has afforded me many of those opportunities. Artists have a weird work environment where we are kind of on our own islands. It’s mostly a good thing, but it can be lonely in our individual studios. It’s nice to have opportunities to talk with other artists about the business end of things, their experiences, how they approach a challenging day. It’s also nice to share successes with each other or just have fun with them because generally speaking, creative people have very fun personalities. Some of my fondest memories over the last several years have come from meeting up with other artists.