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In today’s Partner Spotlight, we talked with Amelia Gier Carlson about her artistic process and influences. Amelia is an experienced graphic designer and entrepreneur with a passion for making home decor meaningful. She has made art her full-time career by offering design services and running a successful shop on Etsy and other marketplaces. She has sold over 35,000 art prints and earned more than 4,500 5-star reviews — all by creating art that connects with every customer. To ensure the highest quality prints for her customers, Amelia has partnered with Lumaprints as her trusted print provider.


  1. What media do you use for your art style? Is there a specific reason why you chose this media? 

I design my prints digitally and use inkjet printers. The digital designs start with vintage maps that I scan and digitally alter for use in my designs.  


  1. Can you describe your art and your art style? 

My designs are all about my customers, and celebrating the people and the places they love. Each print uses vintage maps of places that are sentimental to the customer or to whoever the art is for, and most feature names and a phrase or date to signify the occasion. I keep the art templates minimalistic so that the maps are the focal point without busy elements competing for attention. As a designer I have always been focused on providing my customer with unassuming but impactful art that solves the need without bringing too much of my own expression into the mix. In my past career I worked as an agency designer so I have many years of experience creating high-touch art for corporations, but now I am employing the same skillset to create meaningful gifts for my customers.


  1. Who or what drives you to create your art and share it to the world? 

This all started with a desire to create a product that would promote goodness and love, and delight people. When I use other medium I focus more on self expression, but my art shop (A Gier Design) is about my customers and their people and places. Everyone has lived in, visited, and experienced the world in places that can be represented with these beautiful maps. I also really love the idea that I’m bringing new life to the maps which are mostly very old and out of use. They may not have had many eyes on them going forward otherwise. The designs are almost like sentimental quilts using maps instead of fabric. 


  1. Can you share a favorite quote or saying that you live by?  

As a Christian my life is hugely informed by scripture. One of my favorite verses is Colossians 3:22-13.

2 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and [l]patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so must you do also.

This passage really holds the crux of my business, and my heart for making others the center of my work. I have been blessed to have achieved some success with growing my business which began on, and with success, especially on Etsy, comes imitation. It’s really frustrating and can feel violating to have other people copy my designs and sell them alongside my listings online, sometimes people copy my entire shop, but I have had to move forward and keep my heart humble. My personal experience is that God has convicted me to just focus completely on the good that this business generates and not on the copycats or difficult customers. It is completely powerful to remain thankful and “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,” as best I can. 


  1. Can you discuss a specific piece of art that you are particularly proud of and why?

The map mountain design or Adventure Together® design is my bestseller, and it’s definitely a piece that has proven iconic and attractive to customers and competitors alike. Simplicity sounds easy, but like most minimalistic art it’s harder to achieve a good composition than it looks. The ratios of design elements, subtle character of the typography, use of negative space, balance on the page, these are all carefully considered and have to be just right otherwise anyone can tell at a glance that it’s no good. When everything comes together it works – and this has to work no matter what the maps that get collaged into the shapes look like. 


  1. Can you walk us through your creative process from start to finish? 

The process begins with considering the customer. Just like when I design a brand or logomark for a client, I consider what their needs are first before any visuals come in. When I create a new design for my shop I am thinking about what my customers want to see. What are they asking me for? That’s a good place to start, but also I ask what would be surprising and exciting for them to see. Sometimes changing the size and aspect ratio can be a good new direction too, because even though that’s such a simple change it can mean the difference between a customer skipping your listing or clicking on it. A longer landscape dimension is perfect for above a sofa or bed – places that customers are often seeking to display art. From there it’s really just experimenting with the template layouts until everything is balanced and visually pleasing. 


  1. How do you handle creative blocks or challenges in your work? 

I honestly do get creative blocks or dry spells, and the way I usually handle them is by focusing on SEO, or another aspect of running the business. I don’t really get much time to design these days with two babies that I care for full-time AND running my shop by myself, so there are always loose ends to tie up.


  1. What is your advice to aspiring artists?

One piece of advice that has served me very well is to get an education that teaches you art history, form, typography, and the real practical philosophies behind great design. Don’t worry about going to a tech school and learning photoshop and this and that. Technology changes every day, but a great designer could draw with a stick in the mud and knock the socks off of someone who learned every Photoshop trick but without the design education.

Another thought that has served me well, including inspiring my business, is to serve others and do it gladly. Some people treat any form of service as debasing but it is not, it is honorable and very necessary. When you create art for someone, design for a client, or whatever you’re doing you can do it for them with dignity and that is absolutely a worthy task. The more you can get out of the way, let go of your ego, and focus on the real best outcome, the happier your clients and you will be.


  1. As a star seller in Etsy, how do you handle customer inquiries and concerns, and what steps do you take to ensure customer satisfaction? 

This all kind of ties in together with the themes I’ve been hitting on, but I really just try to connect with my customers and make sure they are getting what they need. Sometimes I mess up and they get the wrong art, and I end up having to pay for framing twice (or even 3 times…) plus overnight shipping to get it straightened out. In one crazy scenario I actually drove 4 hours to hand deliver an order that I knew couldn’t get there on time otherwise. It was my fault and they were within range, and I just decided it was important to fulfill the obligation. I never even told the customer. I feel best when everything is set right. Thankfully that kind of thing does not happen often, but you can bet it helped me pay more attention to the order deadlines!


  1. What is your pricing strategy for your Etsy listings, and how do you determine the appropriate prices? 

Pricing is tricky, but ultimately it’s a part of product design itself. My customers are most often looking for a wedding or anniversary gift so there is the expected price range that comes with that. The art is personalized so it takes my time to create each one – that’s a factor, and then there are the direct costs associated such as framing and shipping. I set an hourly wage I’d like to make and factor that in. I also mark-up framing which is important because as a business I am taxed on my revenue not just my profit (here in Washington that’s how it works), and I made the mistake of not marking up framing enough the first year I was doing it and I ended up having a massive tax bill at the end of the year that had to come straight out of my pocket. Pricing is basically a formula just like for any other business, but I am admittedly not great at math so I do employ a bookkeeper to help me keep everything in order and make sure I’m still making money.


  1. Can you share some of your most successful pieces on Etsy, and what you believe contributed to its success? 

I think question 5 really already answered this but I will expound to say that I think the factor most contributing to the success of the Adventure Together design is the meaningful concept. Who doesn’t love something personalized, and who doesn’t love maps? It’s a perfect wedding or anniversary gift, and it really reaches people because it is by nature about the people and places the customer loves. For me that’s how design should be – visually pleasing, and deeply meaningful.


Learn more about Amelia and her art:
Etsy Shop: AGierDesign
Instagram: @agierdesign

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