Presenting... Parade Designer, Lauren Goodland (AKA 'Dorkfeatures')

12th February 2019

At Parade Design, we employ designers with amazing portfolios, knowledge in all the right software, bucket loads of enthusiasm and the unique ability to think creatively. They’ve also got a degree (or two) in design, illustration or advertising. But what really sets apart the great candidates from the good ones is when it’s apparent that design is more of a way of life than a 9-5 job. 

Take Lauren for example. After 5pm when her Parade duties have ended for the day, she becomes Dorkfeatures –  her greetings card/print business that has evolved organically through her passion for design and tongue-in-cheek messages. We’re so proud to have Lauren working at Parade and LOVE her work so much we wanted to share her story and show you what else she gets up to outside of the studio. 

How did you get into graphics and Illustration?

I grew up with a massive collection of Jaqueline Wilson books, illustrated by the amazing Nick Sharratt and have always gravitated towards work with a personal/playful feel to it. I also loved hand rendered/doodled album artwork - most of which are too embarrassing to name now. I can’t really draw very well in the traditional sense which is probably where I developed my childlike, playful illustration style - although I’d love to be able to draw amazingly like James!

I always enjoyed art in school, but rather than drawing and painting found myself taking a more digital route which confused my art teacher (I didn’t know what graphic design was at this point, or that it existed!). When I got to college to study my A-Levels I soon discovered what graphic design was and literally lived up to the ‘Dorkfeatures’ name, spending most of the two years there in the library reading Computer Arts and messing around on Photoshop. I then went on to study an Art Foundation at Caerleon Campus (R.I.P) and then onto my degree in Graphic Communication in Cardiff Uni from which I graduated in 2016, which led me to Parade!

Tell us more about Dorkfeatures!

It’s important to me that the work I create has an honest, comical spin on life.  Everything I create comes straight from my life experiences that are (hopefully) relatable to most people. The words on my products are just as important, if not more important to my products than the look and feel, although I have become well-known for my signature inky style and bright colour palette. The name was created by a school friend and just stuck - wish there was a better story than that!  A lot of people have commented on how memorable it is and everytime I tried to come up with a new name it just didn’t feel right.

How did you start getting your work noticed commercially?
I feel like my journey has been very lucky and social media has definitely played a big part in me getting noticed commercially. Initially it all started when I was contacted by - an online greeting card company where artists upload their artwork to be sold on cards. My first design was the ‘I love your prickly legs’ card which is random, but still probably my favourite as it was my first! I didn’t even intend for my initial designs to be greeting cards really, they were just ideas from my head that ended up on folded bits of card! Whale and Birdmy card publisher then found me via that website. They do all the difficult things that I could definitely not balance alongside a full time job, like promoting my cards at trade shows and selling them commercially to retailers (more on that below!).

What’s been your biggest (or favourite) achievement to date?
I’d definitely say my cards being sold in Paperchase and Oliver Bonas has been my biggest highlight. In my eyes Paperchase is the hero of the stationery world and I’ve always loved it in there, I don’t know a creative that doesn’t?!

What’s the process behind the finished results?
I often have a notebook with lots of ideas in - some of which make it, some of which don’t. Life experiences play a big part in my ideas, and help me to create relatable copy. Social media is a great tool for me because I’m able to see which designs my audience prefer, which means it’s less of a risk getting designs printed as I know they should do well. Although sometimes a certain design won’t do as well and may be too risky like my ‘shotgun wedding card’.

I use black drawing ink to create all of my designs, but I’ve recently got an iPad and Apple pencil and I’m enjoying working in ProCreate, though I have a lot to learn! I don’t want digital ways to ever replace my proper inky way of working though as it’s always nice to get a bit messy. When I’m done getting inky I transfer my work digitally and put it into Photoshop and Illustrator and vectorise it.

Who are your main clientele?
When I sell my cards on stalls you’d be surprised how much age variation there can be! It all depends on the individual and their sense of humour. I’ve seen the elderly chuckling at my cards, but also seen them frown and tut at them! I think in the past 10 years cards have come a long way from having soppy verses and teddy bears on them, and people now want alternative ways of saying ‘I love you!’.

Have you faced any challenges?
“Tax doesn’t have to be taxing.” - whoever came up with this slogan?! Definitely the business-y side of things, tax returns, finding suppliers, talking about myself and my work (like this!), creative burnout.

And also - In an industry that is very commercial, trying to make my products better for the environment. This has been a challenge though, because as a designer I LOVE all things packaging and literally take forever in the supermarket because I’m checking out all the nicely packaged products.

Last year I removed cellophane sleeves from my cards, which causes some problems - like if you’re doing an outdoor craft stall on a rainy day selling paper goods, but means there’s one less disposable thing in the world! I’ve also reduced the amount of cards I order in one go to ensure none are wasted and I’ll also be looking into printing on recycled paper stocks in the future and ditching anything from my packaging that isn’t 100% necessary. This has been a challenge as sometimes it can end up costing more, even though you’re buying less physical stuff!

What’s next for Dorkfeatures?
I’ve been taking a bit of a break recently, I’ve needed it to replenish my ideas and have a proper think about what’s next for my cards as well as having a little breather. I think it’s only natural that as people grow and change as a person, that their creative work does too! The same can be said for my house, where I used to maybe opt for more brightly coloured cushions, decorations etc. I’m now starting to appreciate monochrome things with a pop of colour.

As life experience also plays a big part in my work, I can see them going more down the quarter-life crisis route, which could be fun! I’d also like to work on a range about mental health and maybe a few more subjects that are maybe a little more tricky to talk about/taboo. And like to expand my product range, learn Procreate and create a few new ranges. I’m also getting married though, so that will be an interesting topic to explore. Who knows, maybe I can come up with a better one than ‘Happy shotgun wedding!’.

Where can I buy your awesome stuff?
You can buy my cards over on Etsy here and I’ll soon be having products sold on Fy! a really cool online shop!  Keep yours eyes peeled for them if you’re ever in a shop as they always seem to pop up, just rarely when I’m there! Or just see what I'm up to on Instagram

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