meet art wall artist: simply silhouettes

April 21, 2010

Yay, yay, it's Thursday. Today, I'm excited to introduce you to Angela Flynn, who is 1/2 of the Simply Silhouettes duo. Together with her husband Patrick, the two use their combined backgrounds in marketing, fine art, illustration and design to create custom unique traditional or modern silhouette pieces. Angela has allowed us a little sneak-peak into their business, what made it "go" and what keeps it going.

(AW) Thanks for joining us, Angela. First off, why don't you tell us how a photograph become one of your products?
(SS) People send us a photo and we draw the silhouette by hand and then convert it into a digital format. You can send us a new profile shot taken just for this purpose, but we do more than just the standard profile. Full body and action shots make great silhouettes. And I just love it when customers dig through their old photos for a nostalgic image they want preserved as a silhouette. We love doing silhouettes of pets too. We do a lot of dogs, but have also made silhouettes of just about every pet imaginable, from horses to hedgehogs.

(AW) Ha! I didn't know you could keep a hedgehog as a pet. It sounds like you have some interesting and unique clients. What are some of your most popular products and color combinations?
(SS) I would say that at least half of our customers are looking for the traditional black and white silhouette print and I just love the classic simplicity of those. One of the things we've tried to do though, is put a modern twist on this vintage art form both in terms of design and the products that you can put a silhouette on. The main benefit of creating silhouettes digitally is that the possibilities are really endless. There's been such an explosion of custom products available lately, we can now do everything from custom printing fabric for pillows to creating life size wall decals.

(AW) It sounds like you have really listened to your clients and expanded to meet the needs of design-savy customers. How did your company start and how has it grown?
(SS) Like a lot of people, my siblings and I had our silhouettes hand-cut at Disneyland when we were kids and my parents still have them hanging on their wall. When we started having kids, we were looking for a Christmas gift idea for the grandparents and decided to try our hand at making silhouettes digitally. My brother liked the one of his daughter so much he went next door and started taking pictures of his neighbor's kids and we knew we were on to something. A few months later our business was born. Luckily, silhouettes started appearing everywhere and our business just took off. With so many silhouette options in the marketplace now, we strive to be innovative and are constantly on the lookout for new products to put silhouettes on, for example we just introduced custom skins for gadgets like iPhones and laptops.

(AW) What do you most enjoy about your business and what is the biggest challenge?
(SS) Our very favorite thing has been watching our clients' families grow. For example, a few years ago we worked with a couple on their wedding, then again when they bought their first home and dog, and we just did a silhouette of their new baby. It's so fulfilling to create something that you know will become a family heirloom.

When you run your own business, you wear a lot of hats--Patrick is the primary artist, but I also help design, along with doing production, marketing, accounting, shipping and customer service. What I wasn't expecting was how time consuming the bookkeeping side of things would be. Every January I start the new year off with the very best of intentions, but when summer vacation comes and I've got kids running around the house all day, that kind of goes out the window and I always end up scrambling come tax time.

(AW) Last but not least, what's a teeny tiny thing that makes you happy?
(SS) Coffee (and lots of it.)

(AW) It really is a special daily treat, isn't it? I go to bed at night excited about my morning Joe. Angela, I truly enjoyed getting to know you and hear about your business a little today.

Simply Silhouettes has a sweet oversized custom portrait in Art Wall's Nursery. The website has products ranging from plates and pillows to tote bags and trays, with much more in between. The Mother's Day Gift Guide has lots of sweet ideas for that lady who gave birth to you.


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