Debbie Montgomery is an artist and illustrator and the founder of Debmon Design. Debbie creates cards, prints and custom portraits that she hopes will bring a smile to a customers face and remind them not to take life too seriously.
We learned about Debbie’s journey to setting up her design business and what motivates her to be her own boss.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
I did a Foundation year at the University of Ulster, followed by a degree in Design for Visual Communication. I graduated in 2013 without being 100% certain about what I wanted to do yet. I had enjoyed the illustration side of things the most, so applying for a design job didn’t feel quite right, plus the thought of an interview with a portfolio etc terrified me! A job in Boots allowed me to take some time to figure out what I’d do next and in September 2014, I opened a shop on Etsy and called it Debmon Design. I started off mainly focusing on building a range of greeting cards with a few custom portrait options in there too - everything had robots on it. In January 2017 I left Boots to work on my business full-time to see where I could take it. I was using robots as a way to be unique but I’ve since varied what I offer to include more traditional portraits and illustrated prints. It’s still a mixture of things and very much a work in progress. As time has gone on and more people are aware of me I get contacted to do design/illustration commissions for people or businesses, which I love!
What or who influences and motivates you?
I am motivated by wanting to be my own boss and being able to choose how and when I work. If you read the “About” on my website, I talk about how my dad worked for decades in a factory and just before retiring he had a heart attack. This had life altering consequences, affecting his health permanently. I don’t want to be waiting until I retire or to be always waiting for the weekend to start enjoying myself. You never know what’s about to happen and life is too short to spend hours at a job you just don’t like.
What has been your biggest hurdle proudest moment or accomplishment in your career?
a. biggest hurdle
I think my biggest hurdle has been and still is, myself… I’m still working on the discipline it takes to show up everyday and do the work - even if I’m not feeling creative or inspired. I find there’s a resistance to actually put pen to paper and see what happens regardless if it looks good or not. I think that’s slowed me down a bit.
b. proudest moment/accomplishment
I was very proud when Humanists UK commissioned me to design a wedding card for Laura Lacole’s marriage to Eunan O’Kane. It was the first humanist wedding to happen in N.Ireland, thanks to Laura’s efforts. A humanist wedding allows far more flexibility to those who don’t want a religious ceremony. You’re not restricted to venues pre-approved for civil weddings and the ceremony itself can be completely unique to each couple. I illustrated Stephen Fry & Richard Dawkins presenting a massive wedding cake. The card read, “Have your cake & eat it too!”
Could you give some advice for any young, emerging designers?
Focus on finding what you enjoy the most. Make the work you want to be paid to make, and put it out into to the world. Go to events where people who are in the design & business world will be and make connections; you never know when they’ll need something and think of you. Keep pushing the boundaries of what you think you’re capable of. Be patient.