We had the good fortune of connecting with Jill McDonald and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jill, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Before I started The Design House, I had worked for a fine art reproduction company who never allotted adequate time to create precise reproductions of the artist’s original work. I saw a great need for a business that specialized in producing accurate fine art prints, of which the artist could be just as proud of as their original work. I came from a background in photography and also realized the need for photographers to have control over the printing of their photographs. My business model allows artists and photographers to have full control over the final output of their printed work.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Artist’s used to be considered sellouts if they produced prints of their original work. That is because, in many cases, the quality of prints were subpar and many trade-offs needed to be made. My business allows artists to produce fine art prints of their original paintings with no need for trade offs. The quality and longevity of my prints allow artists to proudly sell not only their original work but as many prints as they wish. Prints can be made any size and this allows artists to have a variety of price points to sell to their clients. Not everyone can afford to purchase original artwork; fine art prints grant more people the opportunity to own a piece of their favorite artist’s work.

I believe the most important factor in the ongoing success of my business is the passion I have for what I do. When I meet a new artist or photographer they immediately recognize the enthusiasm I have for my role in producing the most color-accurate and high quality prints. I recognize the incredible amount of work every artist puts into their original paintings and I understand how important it is to reproduce the most accurate colors possible. Every one of my clients know that the quality of their prints is just as important to me as it is to them.

I believe one of the reasons for the success of my business is mitigating risks right from the beginning. For example, when I first started my business there were many tools that would have made my life easier but we’re not necessary to produce excellent results. I decided that I would buy only what was needed and my business would have to earn the tools I wanted. This approach helped me create a long lasting business with limited risk.

Having been in business for twenty-two years, there have been moments throughout my career where I had thought about giving up. However, I knew that in actuality these doubts were an indication that I had to reflect on where these feelings were coming from and determine what changes in my business needed to be made. Many years ago I had the thought of retiring my business. I was in a position where emotionally, I couldn’t continue producing prints in the working environment I had at the time. In the moment, I felt trapped between having the profession I’d worked all my life for and being happy. However, upon reflection I realized it was simply a matter of moving my business to a location that brought me more joy. Since my clients came from far and wide I could easily move my business to a lakefront studio. Being by the water has always been a dream of mine and since making that move my personal and business life has been better then ever.

Some of the most important lessons I have learned along the way are to always be evaluating and reflecting on the business practices that work and the ones that need to be changed. You can’t simply setup your business and expect things to stay the same. What worked in the past may not work today. Staying current on the latest materials and technology is key to ongoing success. I’ve realized that relationships with my suppliers is just as important as the relationship with my clients. My suppliers are on the cutting edge of new materials and technology and a strong relationship with them is a big part of my success. I make sure they know how much I appreciate and value their input.

When I first started my business I didn’t have a great work life balance. I spent far too much time worrying about the pedantic and minute details. I believed I had to put every waking moment into my business. Since then, I’ve taught myself the important difference between quality and quantity. By organizing and staying disciplined with my hours of production, I found that both the quality of my business increased, and that I had plenty of time to enjoy my personal life. When you have the correct balance, the work you are doing is more enjoyable and profitable in every way.

I want Artists and photographers to know that what they do matters and that I see and appreciate the value they bring to the world. They can count on The Design House to be a partner in producing beautiful accurate prints that will last for over 200 years.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have had many people throughout the years support and encourage me with my business. I’ve been fortunate to have a wonderful family who taught me the value of doing what you love and how important it is to take pride in everything you do. I’m very thankful to my parents for showing me that with proper planning and hard work you can achieve what ever you set your mind too. I’m also very thankful to all the clients throughout the years that believed in me and encouraged me to go beyond my comfort zone.

Website: thedesignhouse.ca

Image Credits
Robert Irvine

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