Design Your Line

Although only you as an artist can provide the magic that makes your collection solely your own, there are basics of creating a successful line that can help you.


Before you can sell your work . . .

Before you can market your work . . .

Before you can apply to a show . . .

You have to have a body of work that works.

Getting started with a concept for a line is not as easy as saying, “I will make this, or that.” Your sensibility as an artist informs the way you design and develop a product. Use your interests and what you love as seeds for your inspiration. After all, you will be making many pieces of a line that’s selling, and unless you are passionate about what you’re doing, you won’t be happy.

Take a critical look at your current portfolio.  See if it meets your standards for quality, beauty, impact or whatever values you want to embody. Determine how what you now have will sell in the marketplace. What category would it fall into? Is there a market for it already?  What’s working and what’s not?

Every product line begins with one or two great ideas.These are grown into a group of complimentary pieces. Like branches on a tree, the core elements of your design concept are used to develop related items that work well with the major pieces that anchor the line. Then, because product development never ends, you will find yourself making adjustments – adding to your line, improving it, honing it to make each piece an integral part of your collection that also stands alone.

Artist: Kate Tremel

What will be your signature theme or look? Discovering you own personal style must be a natural expression of your character and taste, not artificially created.  Pursue excellence in your work. Your style will emerge as you work persistently in the studio, using your creative gifts to eventually find the style that works for you and excites you.

Product development is hard, and it’s time-consuming. But it’s necessary to create a line with depth and enough selection to allow customers to decline some pieces in your line, while embracing others. You must offer choice, and appeal to different buyer preferences.

Product Development isn’t just about designing.There are many other considerations to be taken into account when creating a line. Some of them are:

  • Is your line classic and timeless enough to sell for a long time?
  • Is your line trendy and modern, which will have a shorter lifespan?
  • Who is your target customer?
  • How will your line be marketed?
  • What is the profitability and where must your price points be?
  • How narrow will the audience be for your line?
  • Is your line seasonal, with a limited window for sales?

In general, as you start producing your line, you will increase the quality and work out any problems with it. You will begin to see which items are the bestsellers and slow sellers, and start to discontinue the ones that don’t make an impact.

Because designing takes such a long time, being able to produce in multiples is a huge advantage. Studio assistants can work on production for wholesale orders, which can continue to ship and create income while you are working on your next collection.

Product development doesn’t have to be confusing or stressful. Great ideas and technical skill are an artist’s stock in trade. Get ready for your next inspiration, jot down your 3 a.m. flashes of brilliance, and roll up your sleeves to begin to design your line.

Image of Kate Tremel’s work courtesy of American Style Magazine.

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  1. Very thought provoking and inspiring article. I am working on a line of felted and collaged scarves. It is hard to mass produce this type of work but I am working on ways to do that.

    • Production studios have to design ways to create work so that it’s done efficiently but retains quality. As you experiment with your technique, you may discover new ways to work that make your business more profitable.

  2. Pamela Davis says:

    So timely. Thank you. If you are a learner it can be so easy to want to work on the actions of how to get your work out there, and yet if there is no work that step is impossible. Websites and blogs are possible when you have work to show. My art is my platform to create other creativity. Thanks for that mantra.
    Can’t wait to show you what is created by the time the Autumn leaves fall.

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