Interview: Shana Victor from Pixelgirl Presents

Shana Victor  

Shana Victor

 

Ever since I came across Shana Victor's curated gallery of desktop art, Pixelgirl Presents, I've been hooked!

But Shana went from strength to strength, next she started Shana Logic, an indie shop, with cool, one-of-a-kind, cute, handmade design, here you'll find jewelry, accessories, fine art and iPod & tech gear.

Shana's passion for design and her entrepreneurial spirit is infectious! In this interview she talks about the ups and downs of running a creative business and generously shares her thoughts and tips on doing what you love. Shana talks about buying handmade, being a computer geek and saving wild animals and gives us a behind the scenes peek into her creative business.

Name: Shana Victor Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA Pixelgirl Presents: http://www.pixelgirlpresents.com/ Shana Logic: http://www.shanalogic.com Blog: http://shanalogic.com/wordpress/ YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/shanalogiccom Connect with Shana on Twitter or Facebook

shanalita

Hello Shana, please tell us a little about yourself?

I'm Shana **waves** and I live in a little ranch house in Ann Arbor, MI with my husband, two dogs, cat and whatever wildlife I happen to be rescuing at the time. I went to school for Fine Art specializing in photography and mixed media and got into web design and design interfaces after college. I love that crazy kind of art where people are like "WHAT?! I don't get it!." I started Pixelgirl Presents in 2001 and Shana Logic in 2004.

Could you tell us about your interest in desktop art? What sparked your interest?

I have a Bachelors in Fine Art so I've always been interested in modern design and art. I'm also totally a computer geek, so it seemed like a natural progression to "curate" an online gallery of artwork!

Why did you start Pixelgirl Presents and how did you come up with the name?

Before PixelgirlPresents.com existed, I noticed that most websites catered to the Windows community. I had a Mac icon set that I had designed for an icon contest and that really got me excited about designing for the Mac interface. There really aren't many sites out there that feature only high-quality, well-designed icons and desktops. And to take that further, there were almost no sites that had items that were made for the Mac interface! I was so tired of wasting time sifting through tacky "hot girl" and "car-themed" wallpapers:-) Basically, I made pixelgirlpresents.com for people like me, who just want to look at good design.

Ah yes, the name...If I could go back into time, PixelgirlPresents.com would have a completely different name! In fact, the only reason why it was called that was that I already had the domain for a personal art site featuring my fashion photography collection. I already owned the domain so voila: Pixelgirl Presents!

Is your desktop always neat and newly styled or does it vary? How do you like to customize your own desktop?

My desktop is for the most part fairly organized but under the surface is chaos!! I have all sorts of folders with random stuff in it from the last 12 years but if you were to look at my desktop itself, it appears like I might have it all neat and tidy;-) I always like a custom icon for my hard-drive and documents folder (normally it's something cute like a bunny, anime character, etc) and I always have my dock hiding on the bottom. I choose 10-15 minimally styled desktops from my site (I do design work so I like them to be fairly subdued in color and texture so that I'm not distracted when I work) and they rotate randomly.

Perhaps you could tell us a little bit about your interest in indie design and how you started Shana Logic?

Happy Rain Cloud Poster Print

Happy Rain Cloud Poster Print

Shana Logic basically was born out of Pixelgirl Presents! A lot of my desktop artists were selling fine art pieces so I opened a mini online gallery where I sold their work. It was called Pixelgirl Shop and was initially a part of Pixelgirl Presents. As I began adding more and more work that I liked, I found that my audience really responded well and it became it's own separate site!

Back then, there were a few other hand-made indie shops out there as a consumer, they weren't really my personal style. So, just like Pixelgirl Presents, I built up a business around what I really love! For legal reasons, I changed the name of my shop to Shana Logic in 2007 and actually I think that name really suits the site! It's basically things I personally like and feel great about so it makes total sense to me :-)

Bestselling Picks: Retro Block Heart Necklace | Clip On Kitty Ears | <3 Unisex (heart) Ring

Bestselling Picks: Retro Block Heart Necklace | Clip On Kitty Ears | <3 Unisex (heart) Ring

How do you find designers to feature at ShanaLogic?

All over the place! Sometimes they email me, sometimes I browse the web looking for something specific that I feel would be a great addition and sometimes I'll randomly see something while I'm on vacation or at a craft show.

Shana lolita

What's a typical day like for you?

  • 9am: I wake up and drink my coffee while I watch one guilty-pleasure reality TV show (I'm a sucker for shows like Project Runway, Flipping out, etc but I'm obsessed with international spin-offs: Britain's next top model, Project Runway Australia, etc.)
  • 10am: I spend an hour writing customers, posting products, and blogging. (I'm not really creative until the evenings for some reason so I don't do any design work until later in the day)
  • 11am: I head off to my shop so that I can check in with my assistants and help with the packing (if they need it) check out the new products, take photos of anything new, maybe do a model photo shoot, etc.
  • 2pm-12am: I'm headed home where I work on and off until bedtime. I do take lots of breaks and run errands so that I don't get stir crazy but I have to do all of the marketing, ads, site content, photos, managing my shop, communicate with the 100 artists, etc myself so it's a lot of work--definitely NOT for the faint of heart but I'm very lucky that my hobby is my job!

Would you mind if we had a sneak peek at what your desktop looks like?

Shana's desktop

Shana's desktop

Would you like to share your office/studio space as well?

Shana assembling a silver robot necklace.

Shana assembling a silver robot necklace.

What keeps you motivated and inspired?

I LOVE my customers and artists!!! What could be better than supporting small businesses, offering the most kick-ass customer service and having the coolest shoppers around? I get to look at pretty, cute and cool things all day...need I say more?

As a creative entrepreneur, we take on several roles, we are the boss, the employee and we might have assistants. We're in charge of shipping, ideas and visions, marketing, creativity, quality control, customer service, the list goes on. It's easy to burn out on a job you're passionate about, and it's easy to forget yourself in the flurry of activities. How do you deal with creating your own organizational culture and nurturing yourself and those you work with?

Wow - this is a hard one. I don't think being a business owner is for anyone who really wants a specific division between their "job" and their "personal life." It's a very time-consuming process and as your business evolves (hello recession, competition, bad/good business strategies, managing staff if you have them!), you have to be up for anything! One season you might only do certain facets of your job and the next, you might find yourself packing orders until midnight when you're short-staffed. If you run your own business, you care about it more than anyone else ever will, which means it's up to you to step up to any challenges you may have. I've been my own boss for almost 9 years now so I'm a lot more used to the craziness, but back when I did freelance web-design it was very hard for me to find my personal and business boundaries.

These packages are the pile of out-going orders the day I took pics ;-)

These packages are the pile of out-going orders the day I took pics ;-)

Do you have any techniques for time management and goal setting that you'd like to share?

Sure! Obviously I don't recommend that you be like me at this point because I'm in a very difficult business that lacks structure. I don't think I'm able to separate my time with my family and my time working well enough. However, if you're in a field where you are your own boss (freelance, consulting, contract work etc), I'd recommend that you decide the time of day you're going to be done working and literally LEAVE YOUR DESK and TURN OFF YOUR PHONE (otherwise you'll see that client email and be sucked back into the fray!) Really take a break. If you're burnt out, go for a walk, get some coffee, watch a movie. I used to do the boring tasks during commercial breaks which helped me get through them. Now? I can't take my own advice but you can still save yourself! ;-)

Cool free magnets. "I make a different design every couple of months and I give out a free one with every order so naturally we've collected a few;-) That pic is the door that we stuck a bunch on--in fact, there's actually 3 holiday ones on there which means some of them are 3 years old!"

Cool free magnets. "I make a different design every couple of months and I give out a free one with every order so naturally we've collected a few;-) That pic is the door that we stuck a bunch on--in fact, there's actually 3 holiday ones on there which means some of them are 3 years old!"

What do you find to be the greatest challenges and rewards of being a creative entrepreneur?

The biggest challenge for me is isolation. It might sound funny because I have four part-time employees, 100 artists and an amazing fan-base but when it really comes down to it, I'm alone in the risks I take, the good and bad choices I make for the business and no one will be as dedicated to it as I am. There's no partner for me to bounce ideas off of, or to help take some of the pressure off of me. That can be a very daunting position to be in.

On the other hand, it's so awesome to be able to make a living doing what I love! How lucky am I to be able to support artists and teach people the value of creativity!! I feel like I'm really making a difference (Plus you must meet my shoppers - they really are amazing).

These drawers are the teeshirt/apparel storage section. It's sorted by artist.

These drawers are the teeshirt/apparel storage section. It's sorted by artist.

You’ve started two successful websites around your interests. What's your advice to other people who would like to start a blog or a business based on their hobbies?

Do what you love and if you have passion about something, people will feel that and be drawn to your projects! Oh and as a side note: get an accountant if your hobby involves any exchange of money! I learned this the hard way but having a small business has a LOT of extra taxes and expenses and you don't want to be caught off guard like I was ;-)

This the spot where Shana photographs necklaces on a mannequin - so people can see what they look like on a body

This the spot where Shana photographs necklaces on a mannequin - so people can see what they look like on a body

Where do you see yourself within the next few years?

I really hope that Shana Logic is still rockin' the handmade/independent scene! It's always so hard to say what the future will hold but Shana Logic is actually the job I've had the longest (7 years!) and I adore it.

Tell us something about yourself, that you think we probably don't know?

Haha, ok here goes: I LOVE japanese food, robots, anything with baby animals, anime (the good, not-dubbed kind), coffee, anything sparkly and cute, wearing animal ears, and I love buying artwork and online shopping (I have a slight shopping problem;-) I'm also a licensed wild-life rehabber so I rehabilitate orphaned baby squirrels, raccoons and woodchucks - so cute!

Check out Shana's web sites Shana Logic and Pixelgirl Presents and connect with her on Twitter or Facebook.

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