Designers are such multi-talented and versatile people. In fact, it’s not too surprising that their gifts cannot be contained in a single creative outlet. Thus, the inspiration for this periodically recurring blog post: “Beyond Design.” It allows us to shine the spotlight on an individual who excels in more than one line of work. So please allow us to introduce Elaine Golub Weber – a graphic designer who also designs and makes purses and tote bags.
President and Creative Director of Elaine Weber Designs, Inc.
Established in 1979 as a creative services group and producer of award-winning corporate identity packages, annual reports, invitations/programs, publications and book designs, websites and other marketing tools.
Designer and Fabricator of Elaine Designs Purses and Walker Tote Bags.
Designer, crafter, and marketer of an exclusive line of purses and tote bags.
NDF: How did you find yourself in the world of design?
EGW: I grew up in NY, and never imagined that I would live anywhere else. But life happens, and I left NYC for a stint in Washington, DC, and then moved south to Lexington, KY, and finally ended up in Palm Beach County, Florida.
At Pratt, I realized that I was more interested in design than fine art. It was an interesting time to attend college — an era of anti-war protest, dirty tricks politics and the best rock ‘n roll–when a poster had power, an album cover could transport you, and words had an impact.
NDF: As a designer of purses?
EGW: My mother was a milliner who had her own shop until I was born, but she continued creating new hat designs, and I grew up sewing my dolls’ clothes, and later on most of my own clothing.
To a woman, a purse is a very important personal accessory. I wanted a visual expression reflecting my persona, and what better way than through a purse! The business didn’t evolve until a few years after I made myself a few purses.
NDF: What sort of training/education did you pursue to gain design knowledge?
EGW: In my teens, I went to the Brooklyn Museum Art School during the summer and weekends studying painting, drawing and soaking in art history. Then, I was fortunate to attend and graduate from Pratt Institute. The program and teachers at Pratt instilled a strong design and work ethic and made me the designer I am today. The motto I have adopted from Pratt is “Be true to your work, and your work will be true to you.”
NDF: As a purse-maker?
EGW: As a purse designer, I am self-taught. For the technical skills, I studied everything I could find in books and online (there are some amazing tutorials generously shared by other purse designers). So much of my education has been by trial and error. You should see my stash of rejects! For the design of purses, my training as a graphic designer and artist, served as a foundation for my taste.
NDF: What was your first design job?
EGW: My first job was one I would rather forget. When I graduated from Pratt, I trekked off to Los Angeles, with the desire to work in the record industry. Without experience, I had no luck in getting a job, so I went back to NYC, and worked as a layout artist for a trade publication.
NDF: First as a purse-maker?
EGW: Elaine Designs Purses is an entrepreneurial adventure, so I was my first client! Later, one of my early commissions was to design a purse that my customer was donating to a charity for a silent auction. I felt a great deal of pressure to create a beautiful purse and found myself experimenting with new materials and ideas. The result was a purse that has become part of my signature line, and from which I have based other designs.
NDF: Can you tell us some of your noteworthy experiences?
EGW: Years ago in NYC, I worked for a small group that designed for the film industry, so I had a turn designing some of the logotypes and movie posters. Designing for museums and the art community has always been very fulfilling, and I also enjoy designing book jackets and corporate identities. When I lived in NYC, it was always a thrill to see my book cover design lined up 10 across in the store window, to see my opera poster at Lincoln Center supersized, or to open the newspaper and see the ad I created.
NDF: What do you like most about your career in design?
EGW: Each client and project offers new relationships and challenges, so design concepts stay fresh. I also enjoy keeping my own schedule, my best work is often done in the evening after dinner when I am relaxed, and my ideas have had some time to gel.
NDF: In being a purse designer?
EGW: When I design and create a purse, I enjoy the time not spent in front of a computer! Really, I do enjoy working with my hands, and allowing my own personality to come through. Unless I have a commission for a purse, I am the designer and I am the one who has to be pleased. I trust myself to be creative, and that my designs will speak to an audience. It is fun to experiment and work with different materials.
NDF: What does the future hold for you in terms of designing?
EGW: The design industry is forever changing with the advent of new technology. When I chose to study “Advertising Design and Visual Communication” the only media was print and video. Now I find that everything is changing at light-speed. I want to move further into web design and ebook design.
NDF: As a purse designer?
EGW: I recently added another division to my purse line. Walker Tote Bags is a product line of fashionable and functional tote bags designed for senior men and women who use a walker or any rail system such as a hospital bed. I like to create a design for every personality. Besides being functional, these bags help restore one’s dignity and can serve as a conversation piece.
NDF: How do you utilize the products and/or services of NextDayFlyers?
EGW: NextDayFlyers has printed bookmarks, business cards, and greeting cards for my clients.
NDF: How long have you been using NextDayFlyers as a vendor?
EGW: My first introduction was in 2008, when a client of mine was using NDF for their projects and wanted me to send my designs to you. I have found NDF to be a very reliable vendor. It is important to be able to go to sleep knowing that everything is in great hands.
NDF: Would you share a blunder that you learned something from?
EGW: On the Design side: Check everything a bazillion times (especially ink formula #s!) Just because there is a deadline, stop and take the time to get the client to sign-off on the project. On the Business side: Have a contract, or at least an email describing the project and the terms of payment, even with friends. With ongoing clients, we assume a reliable relationship, but things happen. Bill regularly, in increments, and if there is a payment issue, you will discover it sooner, and hopefully get paid.
NDF: Any words of advice and encouragement for those new to the field of design? Or designing purses?
EGW: As a designer, the first thing is be a good listener and ask questions. Only show the client the best choices, or invariably they will select the one you dislike. If you believe in it, you will be better at communicating why it is a great solution.
Always do your best, with passion. Remember that a computer is only a tool, and technology will continue to evolve, but design at its core is about communication.
NDF: A message you’d like to give our readers?
EGW: Design is about making choices. It serves as a catalyst; it can clarify, inspire, persuade and communicate.
NDF: Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your story with us Elaine. It is sure to be an inspiration to many of our readers. Those purses are truly exceptional. We wish you all the best in both of your careers!
Featured Designer: Elaine Weber