Featured Shop: Drew Melton
One Love Led to AnotherI first became interested in design when I started buying albums in high school. I loved music, and each time I bought a new CD I would pour over the artwork inside. I didn’t really know what a graphic designer was at the time, but the artwork really captured my imagination.
After learning what a graphic designer was, my friend’s dad connected me with an internship at a web design agency. I was 16 and I knew nothing, but I was enthusiastic and they were happy to put me to work. I designed, coded, animated, and did all sorts of jobs for them until going to college.
Going out on My OwnThree years into college, I dropped out. I wasn’t enjoying the classes I was taking, and I really wanted to start my own company. At that point, I was already doing freelance work, so I started a small agency in Grand Rapids, MI. I designed everything from brochures, to websites and logos. Within a couple of years I was burned out. Realizing this, I decided to take three months off from client work to just draw and figure out what I wanted to do creatively. In my time away from client work, I discovered that I have a love for lettering. Since then, I’ve shifted my focus to typography, lettering, and font creation. I never thought I’d be doing this, but now that I’ve started, it just makes so much sense for me.
A New ProjectAnother amazing thing that came out of my three month hiatus from client work is The Phraseology Project. I knew I needed a lettering project to keep me engaged, but I also knew that wasn’t the best copywriter. So, I came up with the idea of having people submit words and phrases that I could use to practice my lettering skills. I told my wife about my idea, and she’s actually the one that came up with the name, “The Phraseology Project”. Within an hour I had purchased the domain and posted a form for collecting words and phrases. I received over 80 submissions the first day alone! After that, I spent a few weeks designing phrases and preparing the website for launch. During the next year, the site received over 100,000 visitors and 30,000 submissions. It also landed me my first commercial project with Saatchi and Saatchi for Toyota. It was very exciting. Since then, the project has served as a catalyst for my creative growth and has connected me to an amazing design community.
Taking Passion Projects SeriouslyClearly, my interest in typography has grown a lot lately. This, in turn, has peaked my interest in creating fonts. I enjoy crafting a set of characters. It’s tedious sometimes, but I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing my characters work together. My mentor, Jason Blumer has really encouraged me to take my passion projects seriously. In fact, Jason challenged me to design 3 fonts in 2 months. That challenge helped me to start treating my font work like a commercial project, and I quickly grew my Creative Market shop. It’s so rewarding to officially be growing a retail business based on the work that has come out of my passion.
A Supportive CommunityI’ve noticed a great deal of support from the people running Creative Market, specifically Gerren Lamson. He consistently reached out and supported my products. To be honest, I’m not sure I would have opened my shop if he hadn’t shown such genuine interest in me and my work. There are so many networks to be a part of these days, but relationships really make a big difference in the end! I’m really happy with my Creative Market experience. Being a shop owner here has provided a great additional platform for me to promote and sell my products. A few years ago it was almost impossible to self distribute, but platforms like Creative Market now allow creatives to start their own businesses and begin earning revenue. I also enjoy the chance to explore fonts at a deeper level. I’d like to think that I would be doing this without these creative sharing/selling platforms, but I honestly don’t think I would be. It makes me really grateful to be alive in this era.
Honest AdviceIf I could give one piece of advice to new Creative Market shop owners, it would be: launch as many products as you can at first. After you’ve launched a good number of products, go back through them and start revising, improving, organizing, etc. It’s easy to allow the fear of imperfection to become a roadblock to shipping your work, but there’s a huge opportunity with digital products to revise and relaunch without cost. Not to mention, it’s important to iterate your way to exceptional products.
Great work doesn’t happen on a first pass, it happens over time. Giving myself the permission to launch and come back later to make revisions allows me to take my projects to a whole new level. Every time I come back to a project I have new insight, experience, and technical skills. Leaving a project in its original state feels like a waste of potential now. I think you truly make your art after going through a couple rounds of revision.