Meet Melissa Williams
I had a small business making planners and planner stickers, while looking after my two young children. Though I had some experience with Adobe Illustrator, I was a bit frustrated with my lack of skills in the software and researching YouTube became too time consuming. I bought a Skillshare subscription and discovered Bonnie’s classes. Bonnie’s teaching style is so encouraging, calming and unassuming.
I love making art, but I wanted to make art that wasn’t just going to sit in a sketchbook - that wasn’t enough for me.I wanted to make something more with it - I wanted to create a business with my art and create fabric that I wanted to see in the world. I couldn’t go back to college to study textile design with two kids so Immersion was the answer for me.
I signed up for the course at the last possible moment.(Yes, I am THAT person!) I am an enneagram 6, I analyze everything to the point of paralysis, it can be a huge burden and that has stopped me from achieving many things in the past. I think what made me sign up for this course was a realization that I need to make some decisions with faith and courage, so I invested the money I had saved from my small business earnings.
I was worried about spending that amount of money on myself, then finding out that the course wasn’t what I was expecting it to be and then being full of regret. Well, none of that happened!
My life changed. I had a sense of direction, a North Star, that I had never had before.
In the 2018 course, the best parts were waiting each week for each new module to drop, but I was a bit out of my depth. It took a while to process everything, so I was overwhelmed initially. I have been so fortunate to take part in each subsequent iteration of Immersion and each year the course and community support just gets better and better. I also love how each student has lifetime access to their course. No one needs to feel overwhelmed as it can all be done in one's own time.
I love being able to paint motifs in watercolour and creating a pattern in AI that looks so much like the original, though I learned that it can hard on my Mac’s processing power, so I now keep my motifs quite simple.
I also love that I learned so much about myself. This was like a university course for me, and I had a baptism of fire to be kinder to myself and to keep striving for excellence but not perfectionism, which is actually fear in disguise and fear is not permitted to drive - as Ms. Elisabeth Gilbert has taught us.
In early 2019, I won an art competition and a local company printed my pattern on leggings. This gave me so much validation, and helped spur me on. I planned and dreamed big dreams but I tried to focus on creating as many patterns as I could to discover my signature style and improve my art skills. My workflow in AI started to solidify, but I was still rewatching the videos when I got stuck. Halfway through 2019, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and I took six months away from my art to focus on him and our new normal. Then, in 2020, the pandemic struck and I realised how fragile life is, and there was no point in waiting anymore. I started an art practice with my friend, Jenni, whom I met in one of my first Flourish peer groups.
We hit it off and made weekly zoom calls to each other where we geeked out on creating art, having an art business and making plans to grow. It was a life changing experience. She is my art person! I think my husband is relieved he doesn’t have to listen to all my woes anymore. Our art practice was a lifeline for us in 2020 when the world was, and sadly, still is, in turmoil. I made a LOT of art, I tried all kinds of styles and completed my first collection by the end of the year. I called it “Home” , since I had been at home all year, like the rest of the world. I made another collection, which I named “ Haven”. This collection was in a different style but was born out of the same premise as the first: the safe haven that is home. “Haven” embodied calm and peace. As a child I had a tumultuous home life and I believe everyone has the right to a peaceful and calm home, so I made art and patterns to express that. Haven is available in my Spoonflower shop which opened in May 2021. “Home” was licensed in 2021 with a local textile company, Caversham Textiles in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
I made new friends with a special group of ladies from Immersion 2021. Making new connections with fellow designers in a nurturing, non-competitive environment is just so rewarding.
I also launched my first Skillshare class in June 2021 - How to Make Patterns Faster with Actions in Adobe Illustrator - which explores writing scripts in the Actions Panel to save time when creating patterns.
In late 2021, I launched Haven with a local print-on-demand fabric printer in Cape Town.
I would say to anyone on the fence about Immersion, I get it. I was on the fence too, but investing in your education is one of the best investments you can make. Ask yourself, 'Who benefits when I put my dreams on hold?" and listen to your intuition.
This year, I am looking forward to seeing "Home" launch publicly in early 2022. I have three major goals this year: create more Skillshare classes, build my Spoonflower shop which will essentially be my online portfolio, and contact manufacturing partners for licensing deals both internationally and in South Africa.