Pushing through the Freezing fear of Ambiguity

On the fifth meeting of our Studio Design class, we were given the assignment of our final project for the quarter: The $1000 Assignment. In three short weeks, we are to identify a problem, come up with a viable solution based on our skills, follow through with the solution, and make adjustments in order to make $1000 by October 19th.

I think all of our stomachs dropped as the implications set-in.

“In three weeks?! How!?!! I don’t know how to sell anything!”

For some reason, the fear washed over me, then subsided, if only momentarily. What if I reposed this assignment as a personal challenge to make a difference to a community I care about? Immediately, I thought of Austin Pets Alive! (APA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to making Austin a no kill city. I volunteer at APA and know that they are constantly in needs of money and supplies. I drove home from class anxious yet optimistic about the opportunities.

But that’s where my process paused. I had other assignments on my mind and honestly, I was just scared to start. I didn’t know whether the solution should dictate the method or the other way around or where the money would fit into all of this. Fearful of going down “the wrong path”, I thought talking to someone from APA about what fundraising methods were tried and true would give me a jumping off point, but the conversation kept getting postponed. I was just going to have to jump in and hope I don’t drown.

I created a list of the things I am good at and considered which of these skills could produce a marketable product. The idea that has emerged with is a combination of my graphic design skills and an understanding of people’s love of their pets. I have decided to create custom artwork featuring pets and donate 75% of the proceeds to Austin Pets Alive!


Unique Pet Prints

This idea came to me when I considered a painting my boyfriend’s sister had commissioned a few years ago. The painting is a two-tone stencil like image of Lucy, a beautiful and well-loved boxer.

In Process Painting of Lucy

In progress painting of Lucy.

I realized that I could extend this artwork idea and offer custom high-quality prints, paintings, and other products featuring pets to the many people that consider their pets an integral part of their family. The market for a unique pet print business has the potential to be quite large, especially in Austin. Combine this idea with the fact that 75% of proceeds will be donated to Austin Pets Alive, and I was sure that the orders (and money) would roll in.

While many people have expressed interest in online forums, the amount of orders I have received has been under-whelming. I have reflected on possible reasons for this with help from some of my classmates and professors and believe I have been relying too heavily on online connections (Facebook, Reddit, etc.) to connect with my niche market audience. To combat this, I am ordering high-quality prints of some of pieces I have created and will be traveling to dog parks, boutiques, and pet stores to sell directly to my customer. My boyfriend, Cory Hartmann, is also helping me streamline my online platform to improve customer experience and make purchasing as easy as possible.

Keep an eye out for an update about my progress in solving this dilemma in my next blog post!

P.S. If you or anyone you know would like a custom pet print, please visit my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/uniquepetprintsbymeghan (new site link will be posted as soon as possible).  These unique prints make wonderful personal gifts!