Contributor Spotlight: The Wedding Shop
Tania Macarenco (The Wedding Shop) is a self-taught designer and illustrator from Bucharest, Romania. She entered the world of graphic design in 2012 as a hobbyist, testing out ideas and concepts while not letting herself get bogged down by criticism of her initial artworks. Soon after, Macarenco decided to use her passion for creating art to begin a new profession. She then made a daring step away from her safe and comfortable office job and toward an insecure entrepreneurial life; despite advice to the contrary, Macarenco established I am Studio, a multi-disciplinary graphic design company, on her own. Powered by her unstoppable courage and resourcefulness, Macarenco has built an impressive client portfolio, and is working on an iamstud.io team expansion planned for the new year.
Adobe Stock: What drew you to graphic design, and how did you get your start?
Wedding Shop: The funny thing is that design is not really my deep passion; dancing is. I remember dancing for hours and designing my own long choreographed routines for me and my girlfriends in my early high-school years. I think not becoming a professional dancer is what ultimately drew me to graphic design and art creation. I had to manifest all my inner fire somehow!
I remember it all started in 2010 with a two-month Photoshop beginner course, where I discovered some interesting software functionalities. This helped me better understand many online tutorials, as I didn’t get intimidated by the menu anymore.
This fundamentally changed my approach towards Photoshop. I left behind all fears and insecurities and I started to experiment, especially with photo edits/manipulation – it was so fun to change people’s skin and hair color or to mix multiple landscapes in order to achieve a fairy/moody composition. I was mesmerized by all these transformations and my curiosity rapidly grew.
A few months after my Photoshop course ended, my instructor became my life partner! On the last day of the course (7 years ago), he actually lent me three design books, just to make sure he would meet me again later on. Sweet, right?
Even if we share the same workspace, he and I currently have different career paths (he’s focusing on web design and UI/UX), but we are constantly guiding and supporting each other. I am very thankful to him for teaching me the design basis and guiding me toward watercolor illustrations, but even more importantly, for his endless resourcefulness, without which I do not think I would have not have been where I am today!
AS: Your work has amazing painted elements; do you create these by hand?
WS: Yes. My so-called illustrator life started only last Christmas, when I received some painting tools as a gift from my boyfriend. I remember that all last winter I was absorbed by watercolor tutorials and social media accounts that could teach me some useful insights, as I didn’t finish any art school or painting course, ever. I also remember how awkward I felt when I entered an art shop in the city, in early spring, not knowing exactly what to ask for when it came to proper tools for a watercolor beginner.
Lately, I’ve created and completed all projects with personal drawings and illustrations. Of course, there are two processes: traditional painting on watercolor paper, and digitally enhancing or altering them later on. I kind of play with my illustrations in both mediums. I’m in love with the watercolor process, as I never know how the drawing will look in the end, and I often get surprised by the outcome – not to mention that I can multiply it later using digital tools.
AS: What is your creative process?
WS: There are different creative processes according to the projects I’m working on. When we are speaking about client work, I always start with a notebook sketch, just to line up with my client’s expectations, and to help us both anticipate the project outcome. I assure you it is an extra effort any client appreciates.
For templates creation, I mainly focus on usability ahead of design conceptualization. Of course, I get inspired by current design trends, and try to incorporate as much freshness as possible each time, but I always keep in mind the ease of use and customization. The final template should have the same feeling/design even if it’s “retouched” by me or another. That’s why I spend 80% of my time on typography setting, and 20% on the design itself, because the wrong typography can blow away any beautiful or delicate design. With wedding pieces, one should be extra careful.
When working on illustrations and watercolor paintings, I experiment a lot by simply laying down vibrant inks on wet paper to see what happens. Really, there’s no secret, I just play around. You should try it too, just as a fun Sunday activity, especially if you’re an adult – it’s therapeutic, I promise you. It will cool your demons down!
AS: How do you stay organized with multiple elements in your work?
WS: I don’t! My boyfriend always criticizes my messy desk but I cannot live without my handwritten to-do lists – dozens of them.
To be honest, client work deadlines are what keeps me organized, and having a fully booked agenda really helps me calibrate the other activities as well. Nothing ever happens unplanned, and I often end up with a massive to-do list extending over 5 days; still, I prefer to write everything down, as I am an achiever at heart and I couldn’t stand to miss a deadline!
AS: How do you get into the mindset of your users and potential buyers?
WS: This step is the easiest, as I was and I am a recurring user of digital graphic assets. Therefore, frequent questions like “where would I use this,” or “what would I pay for this,” or “how can I connect this piece to the current design trends or seasonal hypes” are always on my mind – as well as the functionality feature of the piece I am creating.
AS: What gives you inspiration?
WS: I don’t want to sound cheesy, but it can really be anything that has to do with creativity and art. I believe that in my design work, I found an inner motivation that makes me search for the intense emotion in the creations of other. It is the EMOTION in any creation that inspires me. Personal projects especially can come to life right after I watch an Almodovar movie or have a nice dinner somewhere new or special.
AS: How did you decide on making wedding templates?
WS: In my early graphic design steps, I observed there were so many male talented designers out there, all of them very, very skilled and, technically speaking, true certified pros. But all those amazingly skilled guys were driven by flashy flares, complex text effects, techy night-club posters, and other hard-to-achieve design pieces. And in a discussion at a job interview (my first and single attempt to become an employed graphic designer) this was highlighted to me when the interviewer said, “we have three pro boys in our team, they move like the wind in our graphic software, they literally can do magic, but none of them is able to deliver a bride diary/notebook design! Can you do this for us?”
From that point on, I felt that I can practice and grow faster without being compared with design gurus or trying to fit the industry standards of what stationery work should look like. That was my tipping point towards wedding design. I also felt that this generous industry could validate my initiatives much faster than, let’s say, the corporate one.
AS: How has Adobe Stock and template creation changed the way you approach creative design?
WS: Adobe Stock is a fundamental creative assets source and I am truly honored to be part of this creative community. As a designer, you get a great amount of exposure and you have the chance to help other creatives and make a notable impact on their creative processes. These awesome creative sources have changed the way I use the graphic assets.
AS: Learning never ends, at least for great designers. How do you learn and expand your knowledge and expertise?
WS: I am constantly experimenting without fear, trying out whatever crosses my mind, and I get to discover new maneuvers, new tips, new shortcuts, or easier techniques. Yes, as a designer, you have to keep up not only with the (seasonal) trends but also with the technological innovations. And it is also true that any great service provider should be highly educated and informed about the industry and business management in general, in order to be able to provide clients with useful products or services.
If you are active in the creative industry and are trying to make a living, it’s useless to be a highly skilled painter if you’re not keen on negotiation, sales or pricing skills and techniques. Design is very subjective, right? Quite often, you have to sell it through storytelling or strong argumentation. Therefore, I always find it useful to mix business-oriented research with design-focused tutorials or podcasts. I also find working with other designers back-to-back to be very enriching and experimental; I am aiming to do this more often!
I would also love to sign up for a watercolor course soon, as I feel the need to improve my painting techniques and time management when working with watercolor tools (I still lose a lot of paint and I still don’t get the most of my brushes!).
AS: Any bit(s) of wisdom can you share with creative people who are interested in becoming template designers?
WS: Don’t be afraid to start building on creative templates, as I feel that being a template designer really brings some discipline into your workflow and creative process. You will always have to match your crazy creative idea with the end-user practical usage, and this way, you will be constantly pursuing the best design option that supports both aesthetic and functional features of your artwork! Design shouldn’t be just a fancy art collage; it should WORK for the end consumer and it should be highly customizable.
AS: What is your working environment like (studio, office, home)?
WS: You might be disappointed – I don’t own a fancy art office; my work environment is currently represented by a little arty home corner, filled with notebooks, speakers, colorful art supplies, to-do lists, and last but not least, my daily partner in crime and muse: Bella, our adorable Scottish fold cat. I daydream about a big white room filled with natural light and some arty furniture, and this will surely come alive once my team expands, but for now I find my home spot quite cozy and a true creativity booster.
AS: Best tunes for getting into a creative flow?
WS: I always find my deep calm listening to Sade, old Alicia Keys tracks, Erykah Badu, Morcheeba, and Thievery Corporation. Glass Animals and lots of slow alternative R’n’B, too. Anything with lush vibes.
AS: Where do you see your design going in the next 5-10 years?
WS: Hard to say right now. I will probably still be doing graphic design and illustration activities, addressing current trends and needs, and with a nice creative team around me. I am still asking myself how design world will change over the years. Maybe the designers will just take care of the conceptualization and a smart robot will materialize our thoughts into functional pieces. Who knows? But I know for sure that, in the next 50 years when our kids and grandkids start to populate Mars, we will certainly need wedding design there, too!
To see more of the Wedding Shop’s beautiful templates, visit Adobe Stock.