Designer Profile: Whitney Anderson - Milwaukee
Hi Whitney! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm a graphic designer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who specializes in lettering, illustration, and branding projects. I've also recently started up a small line of paper goods and small wearables, i.e. art prints, enamel pins, gift wrap, and getting cards, and have been loving all of the learning experiences that have come from it!
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
I'm from a small town in Illinois but moved to Milwaukee for college in 2011. I attended UW-Milwaukee for a degree in Design and Visual Communication and 3 years later at the start of my senior year I got a job as the graphic designer for Broadway Paper, a small paper goods boutique and gift shop in Milwaukee's Third Ward. I held this part time design job while taking 18 credits both semesters of my senior year so it was hectic but so worth it! I stayed there through graduation and into the fall until I began a full time job as a designer for a jewelry company in Franklin, WI. That was a bit over 2 years ago now and I just quit there to go full time freelance.
What led you to start doing design and illustration? And when did you begin Wit and Co?
Growing up, art was always my favorite subject in school. I loved coming home and creating things, drawing, cutting things from magazines and making collages, so it's hard for me to pinpoint a time that I really began this track that I'm on. I attended a very small high school in Illinois and my junior year, a new young teacher began offering a graphic design class. I took design classes both my junior and senior years and knew this was what I wanted to do. So I went into college knowing exactly what it was that I wanted, which I know is rare for most 17-18 years olds.
It's also hard for me to pinpoint a time when Wit And Co. came about, as it had been a dream for so long. The name was born sometime around 2015 I believe, and is kind of a play on my name (Whitney Anderson Company shortens to Wit And Co.) I knew that I wanted to create a name for my little freelance design business that was shorter and simpler than my full name - Whitney Anderson Design felt like quite a mouth full to me. The 'Wit' portion of the name also plays into the fact that I use a lot of clever, witty humor and puns in some of my designs. I created a logo for myself and purchased my domain name in 2016 which is when I consider the 'start' of Wit And Co. and then the physical products followed in April 2017.
What are some of your favorite or most memorable projects that you have worked on?
I absolutely love branding and packaging projects. Any time that I am able to use my illustration or lettering skills on these things is just thrilling to me! I got to do some lettering for one of my favorite coffee shops that they had screen printed on some glasses and diner mugs. Always fun to see your work in use!
In terms of branding, do you have any tips for starting off a new project and deciding on visual imagery?
When helping a client brand I always start off with a pretty extensive list of questions, things like who their target market is, words that they would use to describe their brand, etc. Often times, clients will already have a collection of images that inspire them, and if they don't I'll work with them to create a mood board of sorts to pin point the look that they are going for and make sure that the style that they want to achieve matches up with their target market and their product/service.
How do you connect with your supporters and community?
This may sounds crazy but Instagram has actually had such a positive impact on bringing people to me who want to work with me! People reach out often about working with me because they're looking for something with a similar aesthetic to other things that I post. I've also gotten some really great clients through word-of-mouth. When I work with someone I try to make the whole experience as easy and enjoyable as possible for both parties involved so people often pass along my info when they know of someone else in need of a designer.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I never know how to answer this question without sounding silly! But honestly, everywhere. My eyes are always open to viewing things as creative inspiration, whether it's packaging in a grocery store, beautiful book covers in a book store, you name it. I will say that one of my biggest sources of inspiration is actually antique stores. I love old advertising, lettering, and illustrations and antique stores are always packed with beautiful gems. I also have a huge collection of old match book and match boxes so you'll see white a few nods to those in my work.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
It's hard to explain but I always just feel whole when I'm making. And now that I am creating goods that people can purchase it's so fulfilling knowing that other people get enjoyment out of the work that I create, there's really no other feeling like it in my opinion. I just do it for the love of it!
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face with your business?
I think the main this is just taking leaps and not knowing how things will turn out. Everything has been trial an error so far but I've learned so much from both my failures and successes! When I'm planning for new product launches its really just a guess as to how many to produce of any given item - I have no idea if people will love it or hate it, and I would hate to sell out right away but I also don't want to have a surplus of unwanted goods taking up space. It's really a gamble but I do my best to predict what people will like and base some of it off of past purchases. There's also a lot of dumb little hidden expenses that add up! I feel like I've done things in a pretty smart and frugal way but there are always things that come up that may not have been planned for.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
I think it's so important that we encourage one another! There are so many boss babes out there doing so many great things and I know so many on a personal level too. There was a point in my life where I felt like I was in competition with, and so intimidated by so many women but over the years I've come to learn how important the support of other women really is.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
I have got such a huge laundry list but some of the women that inspire me most are Amy & Jen Hood, Dana Tanamachi, Aleksandra Zee, and Tess Guinery to name a few!
What have you learned from owning your business that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
'Fake it till you make it' has been my life motto for years now, and it's so relevant and relatable. No one knows what they are doing when they start out, but from the outside people always thought I knew exactly what I was doing the whole time. I've talked to a lot of people about starting out and have been really open with how things have gone and really I think it's just important to do things confidently, make the decisions that you can, and learn from your mistakes and do things differently the next time.
How do you manage your time?
This is currently evolving for me since I just quit my 9-5 job to work from home full time. But for about the past year, juggling my 9-5 job, freelance/commissioned work, and launching Wit And Co. has been a huge challenge and really pushed me to become more organized. My evenings after work and weekends were taken up by freelance and personal work which meant I didn't have a ton of excess social time, but I did always make sure I had some personal time for myself, family, and friends. I'm really excited about this next chapter of my life that I'm going into currently where I'll be able to work from home, and be able to focus more on a wide variety of projects.
How do you deal with moments of self doubt?
I try to remember how far I have come, and where I want to be. I was fortunate enough to know what I wanted at a very young age and have been working so hard to achieve it ever since. Some days can be discouraging but I just try to remember how far I have come in such a little time and try to focus on my own journey rather than comparing it to others.
What tools or resources have been most helpful for you in creating your business?
Other small business owners! I've loved hearing what other have to say about it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Also, the Square credit card readers are a lifesaver for doing events and shows, and for freelance work and wholesale orders I can do all of my invoicing through Square too.
What are some of your favorite places in Milwaukee?
Most of these have to do with food/drink but I love all of the amazing coffee shops we have here. Kickapoo, Stone Creek, Colectivo, Anodyne, just to name a few. I love going to coffee shops to hang out and get freelance work done, especially the Stone Creek at 88.9. The atmosphere is so relaxed and its easy for me to focus on work there while enjoying some coffee. I'm also a huge fan of so many restaurants that we have here. Odd Duck will forever be my go-to for any special occasions, along with La Merenda, Kanpai, and Sweet Diner. Another one of my favorite places in Milwaukee is Alt's, located in Walker's Point - a beautiful curated antiques, oddities, plants, and florals shop that I find myself in every few weeks. There are so many wonderful place in Milwaukee though, it's so hard to name just a few!