Makers: Q&A with Tiffbits

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Tiffany Wu is a talented illustrator who specializes in hand drawn corgi cards and paper goods. I came across her Tiffbits store on Etsy and was immediately drawn to her work and sense of humor… it especially appealed to crazy corgi ladies like me. 🙂 Tiffany was gracious enough to tell us a bit more about her shop, corgi love, and what it’s like to be an entrepreneur and maker.

Tiffbits StoreTiffbits Instagram | Tiffbits Facebook

Hi Tiffany, can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you make?

Hi! I’m Tiffany, I was born and raised in Queens, NYC and still call it home. I’m currently back to the freelance life as a web developer and designer, so most of my time is spent coding and designing things for the web. About 3 years ago I opened up my Etsy shop where I sell illustrated greeting cards and paper goods, like notepads, gift tags, and bookmarks, that have corgis on them and I’m slowly starting to incorporate more animals. I took down the shop last year when my full time job was taking up most of my time, but I reopened it early this year!

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When did you start drawing? What’s your favorite medium?

I started drawing when I was young, my sister and I have always been interested in the arts. I also attended Parsons School for Design, an art/design college in NYC, so I’ve always imagined myself doing something in the creative field. My favorite medium is just pencil and paper. I ultimately scan my drawings in and color them in digitally, but pen and pencil is usually how it starts. I like the organic nature and playfulness of hand drawn illustrations and I think it ties into the silly messages/phrases I pair them with.

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And of course I have to ask… what do you love about corgis that made you open a corgi-fied shop? Do you have a corgi of your own?

That’s a hard question because there’s so many things to love (ha!), but I think the main reason why I decided to make my drawings around corgis was simply because drawing them put me in a good mood and at the time I needed an outlet to turn to when I needed a break from work. I found it came easy to me to think of ideas when it came to corgis (whether from their stubby legs, big ears, or silly personalities) and I’ve always been interested in stationery, so it seemed like a logical choice for me to connect the two. One day I hope to have a corgi of my own when I have the time and money to take care of one (student loans are no joke!), but in the meantime I live through corgis on Instagram!

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What does your workspace look like? What are your must-have tools?

I keep my workspace pretty simple and I do most of my work on two tables in my room. One table has my computer, scanner, printer, office-type things, which is where I do most of my work. The other table I use for assembling and making products, as well as packing orders, so it has all of my packaging supplies and shop materials. My must-have tools are essentially a sketchbook and pencil, then my computer, and finally my Epson scanner and printer to produce my products.

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Do you have any process photos or sketches you can share? 

Of course! I do a lot of sketching in pencil, then I trace the drawings and text with a Micron pen onto tracing paper, and scan into my computer. From there I clean up the scans and add color in Photoshop. If they look good as is I’ll celebrate (!), but most of the time I’ll revise parts of it (re-drawing, adding, or thinking of different phrases to use, things like that). A chunk of my process is getting down as many ideas as possible (good or bad, so my sketchbooks are a hot mess and only makes sense to me) and then picking my favorites.

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How and why did you decide to open an Etsy business and what are some takeaways you’ve learned so far?

I decided to open an Etsy shop when I needed a break from being on the computer all the time, so I started drawing again. The first things I sold were greeting cards with different animals on them that I drew on my computer (on Illustrator), they did better than I thought and that kicked things off. I never thought I could actually sell a product I made, let alone have other people pay money for it! I actually went back and forth between making digital illustrations and hand drawings, at one point I stopped illustrations all together and tried selling cards with my hand lettering (and failing). I think that was an important takeaway from opening up my Etsy shop, just to constantly try and put out different ideas even if they ultimately don’t succeed. I also learned you have to really enjoy the process, not just the end product, because good ideas come from practicing and putting in the time.

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Do you have any business advice or words of wisdom for new Makers, artists, and designers?

I think the most important thing is to play up your personal strengths. Instead of comparing and wishing your work looked like someone else’s, or that you wish you were as “talented” as so and so, it’s more important to take the time to hone in and find your own style and voice. I still consider myself “new” and my shop is still something I do on the side for fun. Finding my personal style is still something I struggle with, but I try to remind myself that things like this takes patience and hard work. As for releasing a new product (or opening up a shop) I always try to ask myself two things: 1) “what makes this different?” and 2) “would I buy this?”. But, I also think it’s just as important to not get hung up on making every detail perfect (“progress not perfection”). Sometimes you just need to put out work and learn from what comes out of it, or doesn’t (and that’s ok)!

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What are your favorite Etsy stores, illustrators, or makers? 

Currently, my favorite lines in the stationery industry are Moglea, People I’ve Loved, and Ghost Academy, they’re all pretty different in terms of look and style, but I think they all hold true to their own style and voice. As for designers and illustrators, there are so many that inspire me (I could go on forever), but lately I’ve really loved following the work of Maja of Majasbok she does simple line drawings of animals in the cutest style paired with the perfect sentiment (she did “tickle me…and die” and “dangerous when hungry”).

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Do you own any ‘corgi things’? What are your favorite corgi things?

I do! I have a corgi Squishable, a corgi keychain (from leatherprince on Etsy), and a corgi plush from Bellzi. There’s so many great corgi things out there, but my favorite makers right now that make corgi things are Thousand Skies who makes the cutest pillows, Pamela Goodman does beautiful watercolor drawings of corgis (and other animals), and Giveafluff makes the cutest illustrations!

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What are you most excited about in the upcoming months? Are you releasing any new products or designs?

Anytime my freelance work slows down I use that time to plan for what I want to add to my shop, so there’s always new products/designs I’m releasing! I just started a separate Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter account to update everyone there and it’s actually been a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. I’m most excited for making Christmas and New Years cards, which I should be releasing by the end of July! Notepads are my new favorite product and I would love to add some new designs for those too. They are the most time intensive to make, since I make them all by hand, but it’s become a satisfying process. The newest items I’ve added to my shop are actually Custom Invitations for weddings, baby showers, and kid birthdays, which I hope will be a new way for me to connect and work with people buying from my shop!

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