Thursday, February 5, 2015

Phone Interview with Artist Vicki Ross

Podcast Episode 4: Interview 1 Vicki Ross

by ©Peggy Gabrielson

I had a blast on the phone! Two lives weaving a connection together. Here is a brief outline of our conversation. You must listen to the podcast, or you will miss out on some very interesting facts about her life. 

We discussed her Fernery plant business, and how it led to being hired by Leisures Arts as a pattern designer. She shares how she got into her own printing and publishing business, and her other ventures including online courses and Kindle eBooks.

Me: How did you get into publications?

Vicki: "Soon, all kinds of new substrates crossed my desk…perforated paper, plastic canvas, three-dimensional items, new threads, yarns, ribbons. I designed one of the first publications on plastic canvas…a collection of Christmas Ornaments."

Me: Vicki, I love how your business The Fernery evolved. You are intuitive to new creative trends. How did you get into pattern designing? I am a collector of “how to” publications. How long were you designing patterns for Leisures Arts

Vicki: "NeedleWorks was founded in 1981 or 82. By this point, all cross stitch designers “out there" had moved to multi-page publications with color covers…and Leisure Arts distributed every one of them…except for ours.  My partner’s espionage got us blackballed…which greatly affected our popularity. I bought her out a year or so later, but was never able to overcome how she left Leisure Arts."

Me: The market trend changed, causing you to focus differently for your business, most companies wouldn't have bounced back, but you had. Can you share with us how you did this?

Vicki: "1986-7 I took the leap and purchased a Mac SE and a LaserWriter for $9,000+. 1 MB Ram and a 20MB hard drive. Software ran from floppies. From there, I taught myself to set type and in addition to my free-lance publication work, I started doing typesetting for a local printing company. Soon, I developed a method to do counted cross stitch charts using the Mac, being the first in the industry to move past hand drawn or rub-on symbols."

Me: The natural progression to printing seemed apparent for you and your business to take. How did this evolve into advertising, Vicki?

Vicki: "Talk about a niche! Or trend! I was right in the middle of it. I even took a full-time position as Art Director for an advertising agency so I could have the title and business cards. Kept my free-lance work too…I earned every penny as I worked day and night every day!"

Me: Vicki, you seemed to be ahead of a successful trend with online art courses. Why did you decide on publishing eBooks also?

Vicki: "My first eBooks were written and published in 2010-11 as collateral product for the classes. My tutors were in Scotland, France, Australia, and all parts of the US. If a student had ever met an instructor they liked, 3-5 days in a traditional workshop would not be enough." 

Listen to our phone interview here...

Follow Vicki Ross
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