Everything you love about the vibe of S6? Yeah, you can thank Wes for that.
Illustrator and graphic designer Wesley Bird spent three years as Society6’s art director and was a key voice in establishing the rad aesthetic you know and love. Now, Wesley is a full-time freelancer (and dog mom to Sawyer) livin’ the SoCal dream. We were stoked to catch up with one of our favorite artists/people to talk about her current fave projects and find out more about how she nails that ever-precarious work/life balance.
Over the years you worked on tons of amazing collabs, do you have any favorites?
My favorite collab is actually a project that never got released! I was asked to design a poster for Pride Week for Converse and I LOVED it. The whole campaign ended up taking a different direction so the design never made it to print, but I am so proud of that work and flattered that they asked me in the first place. Thats kind-of design life though—so much of your work never sees the light of day and you just learn to be okay with that!
Another project that I’m extremely proud of that did make the cut is the Society6 Back To School catalog that just came out! Catalogs are hard freakin’ work. SO technical and detail oriented and a LOT of planning, but it really came together and all the Society6 products look RAD in the staged rooms. I wish my dorm looked that cool haha! But seriously, I loved being able to showcase so many S6 artists amazing pieces in the photoshoot. Helping people discover new artists on the site was one of my favorite aspects of my job at Society6!
What do you feel is S6’s greatest value to the artist community at large?
When I was working full time at Society6 we talked a lot about this and kind of identified S6 as the perfect “side hustle” gig. There have been a few artists on the site who are lucky enough to live off their earnings entirely, but for the majority of us it’s the perfect place to gain exposure and be able to sell our work with literally no risk involved. You don’t have to dump a bunch of money into stoking your own inventory or waste a ton of time fulfilling orders. I am able to freelance full-time for creative clients while making money on the side thru my Society6 shop. It’s definitely a win-win situation.
What are you working on now? (Tell us all of your secrets!)
My background is in apparel graphics and textile design, so with going full time freelance I have been able to take on more of that kind of work. I am currently doing a lot of pieces for Amuse Society, a really cool women’s lifestyle brand based in Orange County. I am also trying to do more illustration and lettering work for publications and album covers. A couple weeks ago I was lucky enough to illustrate a 5 page page spread for Entertainment Weekly, which was SO FUN. Definitely need to do more of that.
I also design pins and patches on the side for my own shop and I have a couple new ones coming out next week. I really like working on those because it’s just 100% my own style. I also just helped my husband set up his very first Society6 shop with all of his rad film photography! He’s been shooting film for years and is SO talented so we finally found some time to sort through his amazing work and upload it to the site. Lastly, I’m in talks with one of my faaaaavorite print shops in LA to help design a greeting card line, which has been one of my forever dreams. So cross your fingers 🙂
Are there any Society6 artists who have really inspired you via their artwork, their process or their story?
YES! Mike Force, Jack Teagle, Estera Preda, Stephanie DeAngelis, Mojo Wang, Scott Erickson, Keith Negley, Elena Kulikova, Eero Lampinen, Céleste, Ms Wearer, Donya Todd…I can’t possibly name all of them. I’ve discovered SO many amazing artists on Society6.
Tell us about your dream work day:
Honestly it’s pretty simple. I work from my couch in our den while listening to true crime podcasts, taking breaks for Starbucks walks or to read a few pages of a book. What would make it a dream work day would be designing stuff for a client I just vibe with or making my own art that I’m stoked on. I have good days and bad days as a freelancer. A good day is when the creativity is flowing and I’m feeling really productive. That’s it. I’m a simple girl!
You’re a really versatile creative with one of the best aesthetic eyes in the biz (seriously), how do you keep your artistic voice so unique throughout all the projects you work on?
Ummmmm THANK YOU?!?! That’s seriously so nice! Over the years I’ve just learned not to force anything. I may come up with ideas for new art pieces or designs for clients and if I start to work on it and it’s just not translating from my head to my hands then I move on to a different idea. If it’s not working then it’s just not my style and I’m okay with that.
What are some of your own favorite designs?
My Hustle print. I love that one, it speaks to me! I also really like my horoscope series. Did I mention my favorite color to design with is peach?! Bet you couldn’t even tell…Also maybe “Eternal” and “You’re Hotter Than The Lava In My Lamp”. All my favorites are just really fun pieces that I enjoyed making.
You’re also amazing a creating a personal brand that feels authentic. Whenever you post on IG, I always feel like you’re genuinely really excited about whatever you’re talking about. How do you keep this up day to day?
I try to only take on the jobs that REALLY excite me. I’m also just really grateful for my clients and the work I get. I’ve always wanted to go out on my own but it’s always sounded so scary! Once I finally made the leap and companies continued to come to me asking for my help, it really validated my decision and I just feel so blessed that this is my JOB! I believe that as a freelancer, the more you solidify your personal style and post it for the world to see on social media or your online portfolio, the more clients want to hire you for YOUR style, not something the client saw somewhere and wants you to recreate. Overall that work is FAR more exciting for both parties! Use social media to toot your own horn!
What advice to have to give to people who are new freelancers?
Don’t procrastinate on projects and DON’T wear sweatpants all day. Leave your house every morning before you start work, whether it’s to go on a walk, workout, grab a coffee—it helps to separate your home from work. Also, you’re running a business now, not just designing. Read books and blog posts about business and managing your finances. Treat your clients as clients! Speak to them professionally. Promote yourself on social media and do some research about best marketing practices. It’s hard work but veryyyyy rewarding and FUN!