We all dream of growing high – higher than the trees and the mountains, find our way full of adventures and challenges and walk it devotedly till the end of times – like those about whom you used to reread in your favorite novels.
Someone leaves this dream far behind when grown. 'Kiddish!' they say. If so, the whole design industry is composed by kiddish outbursts, by daring dreamers, riskers, and loony voyagers, who try, fall, stand up and try again and again till they rock the top list of Creative Market.
Today's story is right about a person who's unpacked the idea perseverance and hard work and has welcomed the dawn from the highest peak of Scandinavia – Mats-Peter Forss, a talented product creator, and entrepreneur.
Please tell us a few words about yourself. Who are you? Where did you come from?
I’m a 32-year old digital product creator from Finland, Northern Scandinavia. Currently, I’m working 100% full-time on my own company, selling digital design products and running my website creativebooster.net. I have no education in graphic design at all. Instead, I’ve hustled my way by learning from blogs and video tutorials. Whatever I create, I always try to add a punch of minimalistic Scandinavian vibe in it.
In 2010 I graduated from the university of applied sciences in Pori, Finland as a construction engineer in 2010. However, things never evolved into a point where I could turn any of my hobbies like sports or internet poker into a profession, and I’m not that into construction engineering, but I guess it’s good to have a profession in something.
In my free time, I go weekly to the gym, bicycle and walk out in the bush. On top of that, I love listening to EDM, drinking amazing coffee, watching sports and spending time with my friends. I've been a big Ferrari dreamer since the age of 13. Don't have one yet :)
Why have you decided to start your way of a designer? How did it happen?
I think the reason why I’m a designer is in a sentence 'I want to create something of my own.' I want to produce things that other people admire, love and want to use. I wouldn’t describe myself as a graphic designer, more likely a product creator.
Also, it’s always been really hard for me to work for anyone else, even in great companies. It’s not that I’d be a difficult person, it’s just that feeling inside that I’m not doing the thing that I’m supposed to. Like I wouldn’t be using my full potential.
Okay, it’s a pretty funny story how I became a product creator. In 2012 I bought a Canon DSLR, tried to sell a few pictures in microstock. Failed miserably (see the images). Saw that people also sold vectors in microstock and I thought 'Why not me?' Almost failed on that too, but then suddenly it took off pretty well when I figured out what products sold best. I kept selling vectors in multiple microstock sites for a little over a year as a side business while working at construction fields fixing roofs and on other construction related works. When I had consistent sales, I decided to take a leap of faith and applied for a start-money program (Finnish way to support early companies).
After a while, I got bored with vectors and started WornOutMedia Co. shop on Creative Market. I was aiming to make new types of products like logos and add-ons, which were popular at that time. My first logo templates were a huge success, and my product '115 Minimal Logos Bundle' made so well that I completely stopped uploading to microstock and concentrated on Creative Market. Since that decision, I’ve stayed on that path, and it has been a good decision in financial and designer perspective overall. I have also learned to make fonts lately, and it has been a really fun learning to curve!
At the side of product creating, I have found a site called creativebooster.net in 2015 to offer my and other designers products for free so that other designers could get high-quality products for free. In exchange, product creators get exposure for their shops or portfolios. It’s been great to work with other product creators because it’s a bit lonely world when you work from your home office all day :D
What are the up’s and down’s of being a designer?
I don’t feel like I have to work, I feel like I’m allowed to work. That’s the best part of being a product creator. I don’t have a hard time to sit in front of the computer, creating products. It's far harder for me to quit my day after only 8 hours! There are also many other good parts in this business like having a total schedule and location freedom. The work must be done, but it doesn’t matter where and when I do it. I also like the competition aspect of product selling and the potential to make a better income than in normal business. In this business, complete trash might still hit the fan, and I can lose my income, but hey, at least I've been a king for a while – I would regret more not taking the chance when it was in front of me than playing it safe.
The biggest downside of this business is the long hours I have to sit. I don’t mind to sit, but I know it’s not good for the long run health. That’s why I have a mountain bike, gym membership, a small fishing boat and a good pair of running shoes so I can exercise instead of sitting all the day. Lately, I’ve also started to use a timer app on my iMac which makes it easy for me to set it to a specific time. It then alarms me when I’ve sat for example 45 mins in a row. Then I just get up, grab a glass of water or make a few pushups. I hope I can stay true to it for the long run!
Where do you get your inspiration?
The biggest inspiration source to create new products for me is absolutely Pinterest. It’s filled with awesome designs from all over the world. Other great sources of inspiration are Instagram, Etsy, and other marketplaces. I might also find a great typography from a newspaper or any print.
I also take long walks, bicycle trips or drive with my car to refresh my mind – or listen to a lot of business podcasts (Gary Vaynerchuck, Mixergy, etc.), watch all kinds of vlogs (Jon Olsson, Peter McKinnon, etc.) and try to fill my knowledge with everything that comes to creating a better business. Let’s see what happens!
Tell us about your working day. What is your creative process like?
My routine changes from day to day. I’d love to get up at 6 am, but I also like to be up at 12 am so it’s a battle! My main goal is trying to work smarter than harder. Making the product research well and then executing on it quickly. I also try not to work more than 8 hours a day and Sundays (or one day per week). On top of that, I try to unplug my head for 1-2 weeks per year by having a vacation out of Finland.
What comes to my gear, I currently have two 27” iMacs (2016 and 2011 models) wired together. The second one is just a slave display. I’d love to have one bigger (40”-50”) screen, but haven’t found as good as iMac’s 5K display. I also have one 13” MacBook Pro for remote work and an iPad Pro 12.9” for font creating. I use Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Glyphs and an app called Procreate to create fonts. For rough fonts, I have about 20 real brush pens, basic copy paper and a Canon mobile scanner (so amazing!).
If you had to choose which of your artworks you’d call your number 1, what would it be and why?
Definitely 'Feminine Logo Creator'! That was so much fun to do, and the response was just amazing! People have loved it so much. It was a lot of work to do, but it felt like the time flew as I was working on it. I’ve seen elements from that pack used in multiple designs and logos over the internet which makes me pretty humble. If I remember it right, it was a Creative Market nr. 1 seller for weeks and stayed on the first page of Creative Market for months.
What would you advise to the young designers, who're just dreaming about conquering Creative Market and other marketplaces?
I love to give advice to newcomers as I've entered this business from zero graphic design background myself. I also had almost no money when I started selling my bad photos. I hope you can see that I'm a great example of how anyone can become a product creator. If I did it, so can you!
Ok, so here are my tips. Don’t think this is easy money. Put your mindset ready and be willing to work your butt off to make your stand in this business. Create products that people love, not products that you love. You’re here to serve others with your talents, not yourself. If you love creating products that people love, then that’s the ideal situation, and you’re guaranteed to succeed. You have to think about buyers and how’d they benefit from your products. Make them save time & money and make it in high-quality! Your products might (and probably will) suck at first, but don’t worry, you’ll get better product by product, and your design-eye evolves in the process. There are no shortcuts. You’ve gotta work both hard and smartly.
Don’t forget that product creating is a tough business to do full-time! I’d suggest you take any job you can or keep your current one, and side-hustle this business. Don’t quit your day job, because earnings might drop overnight and a bad job is still better than no job at all. Be humble and work yourself up! You’ve gotta earn your spot in the highlights!
When you’ve done a few products and got sales in one marketplace, then spread to all possible marketplaces to see if one performs better than other. That also gives you long-term stability, which is vital for you to stay in this business for long. I’ve got my products in 20+ marketplaces. Also, I’d suggest you diversify your products, unless you’re Sam Parrett, the king of fonts! The lifespan of one product might be from one month to multiple years, so you have to create a lot of products to make it full-time. Releasing products consistently also makes people notice you regularly, which gives your other products more attraction and that my friend, means more sales!
What comes to promoting your products, marketplaces already have a lot of buyers, and they promote great products so I’d forget about social media like Youtube and Instagram. If your products aren’t worth it, you ain’t going anywhere with million Instagram followers. I’ve seen that in this business too many times. Just create great products, and you’ll succeed! Easier said than done, I know, trust me :)
All in all, if you’d like to try creating products, start today – not tomorrow! Create lots of them and become a design-boss step by step. Check marketplaces for what people love and create products that are better than those. Help other designers to design a more beautiful world with your beautiful products. If you don’t know how to create products, Google and Youtube are your best friends. Learn by yourself; you can do it!
August seems to be the hottest month for self-realisation – fullpacked with educational hacks and decent portion of motivation from a person, who's turned his entire life upside down to start it different, fresh, inspiring and artistic. From a fiction to reality, we'd say – and it's a good way to get to assure yourself you're possible, and the matter of success is only the matter of your desire.
Shut the article down. Lay aside your smartphone for a while and strart it. Right away. And let the self-confidence be in you!