Saturday, September 14, 2013

Meet Billie Z from Pink Castle Design

Billie Z
First, let’s introduce you. Tell us about yourself.
Hi, I’m Billie Z.  I’m a divorced mom of 2 and grandma of 5, 4 boys and 1 girl, ages 16, 14, 9, 7 and 3. I was born and raised in Iowa and currently live in a small town in Central Iowa.

What drew you to graphic art?
I’ve always been interested in color and design in one fashion or another. When I was 16, my mom had a floral shop so I learned floral design and worked in various flower shops for several years. As a young mom, I painted – folk art on wood and continued with floral design, working on silk wedding flowers too.  It seems like I’ve always been creating something or another.

In 2000, we got our first computer – a real biggie with 52k ram and 8 gb hard drive.  J  I discovered the world of graphic arts and design and began by making little animated signatures for friends and family. I went from there to web design and had my own website for several years, making websets, animated snowglobes, and other projects.

As time went on, the computers got bigger and I started looking for a way to create income using what I’d learned.

What was it that inspired you to create digital banners and avatars?
I started by making templates on eBay when they allowed digital art.  When they took away that option, I discovered Artfire and I began making banner sets for other sellers. I’ve managed to stay busy with that for a few years now. I’ve added Facebook Timeline covers, blog and website headers, business card templates and am in the process of creating my own digital graphics for sale.

Do you find that a particular theme, color or style garners more interest than others?
Not really. I think I’ve done a little bit of just about everything – bath, flowers, vintage, holiday, feminine, masculine, jewelry, children and more.  It seems that each studio or store customer sells something different and of course, they all want their graphics to reflect that.

Do you have any favorite graphics themes for banners?
I love all things PINK so that’s always a favorite of mine to work with. Flowers are a favorite subject too. I purchase a lot of graphics from digital artists and use them in my work. I love making holiday banners and currently I’ve taken an interest in vintage photographs and am developing a line of pictures, tags, templates, etc. for others to print and use. I also love boutique graphics – usually feminine-type graphics for online boutiques.

About your Tutu Dresses: I think sewing is becoming a lost art. I’m always amazed at what other people can do with the needle and thread or at the sewing machine. How and when did you learn to sew?
I learned how to sew in Home Ec in high school. I’ve always liked the “idea” of sewing but it’s never been one of my strengths. You’ll be surprised to know that there is no sewing involved in making our tutu dresses and skirts. The tulle is knotted on a machine crocheted band and our floral trim and headbands are created using the good ‘ol glue gun!

Have you always created Tutu dresses?
No, our tutus are relatively new – we’ve been doing them just since March.

It would seem to me that it must be more difficult to try to sell online than in a brick-and-mortar store. You have to convey in words and photos the sizes, colors, and the feel of the fabrics so that the buyer wants to add it to their (virtual) cart. Do you think that’s true?
I do. There is SO much competition in selling online that you really have to stand out to get customers. You have to market, market, and market some more to get yourself noticed out there in the big worldwide web.

Is it more difficult to come up with the descriptions or to take the photos for selling online?
I write the descriptions and my daughter takes the photos. It’s always a challenge to find new creative words to use to draw a picture for the customer to “see” when describing a new tutu or dress. We’re lucky that I’m able to edit our photos so I can fix them if there’s a problem. I can lighten them, change the tint, feather the edges, and more. I wish we had a human model to wear our designs – I think that helps more than anything in selling online but we have no little girls nearby to help us.

When you aren’t working on Banners or Tutu dresses or working on orders or your shops, what are you favorite things to do? How do you un-wind?
I’m an avid reader (I enjoy contemporary romances and crime dramas) and I crochet. I like to crochet kids’ hats. Right now, I’m crocheting a rainbow and white granny stitch throw that’s looking really pretty. I also want to tackle a little witch hat and a crocheted top hat too. I’m also working on a crocheted snowman hat.  The white background of the hat is for the face of the snowman and includes black buttons for his eyes and mouth and a crocheted carrot nose. It’s topped off with a crocheted mini-top hat. Really cute.  I also love surfing the web collecting graphics and I’m hooked on playing Candy Crush too.

Visit PinkCastleDesign on Etsy for Tutu Dresses

Pink Castle Design on Etsy
Pink Castle Design on Etsy

Visit PinkCastleDesign on Artfire for Banners and Avatars