Interview with Artist Taylor Mason from Mason Makers

It is my pleasure to introduce Taylor Mason from the Mason Makers Etsy shop! Taylor and her husband Ryan are both designers living in Portland, Oregon and run their Etsy shop together, please visit their shop and their website to show some love after the interview! You can also follow Taylor on Instagram @taylormasondesign.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?

I am a graphic designer and painter living in Portland, OR. Art has always been fascinating to me, as a kid I played movies in the background and poured over library books, trying to replicate the sketches I studied. I was in love with the magic of creating, to see a pencil sketch come to life and create an illusion on paper was mesmerizing to me.

Today my passion for drawing and painting has only continued to progress. I love painting in oils and gouache. I primarily create landscapes and animals from my travels. I love plein air painting as well, there is something peaceful and challenging about being in the middle of nature and attempting to capture the light and colors in the moment.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your oil paintings? What draws you to painting in miniature?

My inspiration for my paintings comes primarily through my travels. Locations such as Wyoming, Maui, Canada, California and Montana offer sweeping fields, large open skies, mountains, desert plateau’s, lava fields and rainforests. There is so much variation in nature and I find inspiration everywhere I visit.

I decided to paint in miniature when I ran across interesting wood rounds in a craft store. I like how small they are and how painting or staining the edges can mimic the frames of larger classical paintings. I’ve also found that people enjoy owning smaller, more affordable pieces, in contrast to larger commissions.

How did your series on Maui come into being?

My Maui series came to be through my trip to Hawaii last spring. I’ve visited the island several times, but on this trip because I’ve been more focused on painting landscapes, my eyes were more attuned to noticing details I hadn’t before. One thing I enjoy is the variety of climates in a relatively small area. Visiting volcanoes, rainforests, coastlines and wildlife provided me with an abundance of inspiration, and led to this series.

Can you speak to the creative partnership between you and your husband?

I met my husband Ryan through the graphic design program at our university. His humor and love for drawing really captured my attention. Today we enjoy sharing creative time side-by-side, sitting at our desks in the evenings as he draws comics and I sketch or paint. We also enjoy creative days outdoors where I paint en plein air and he sketches beside me. Ryan challenges and encourages me on a daily basis, helping me with my compositions and not letting me take shortcuts. I’m thankful to have a spouse who values creativity just as much as I do and enjoy pursuing our passions together.

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Artist Interview with Rachel Gregor | Figures and Flowers

It is my pleasure to interview Rachel Gregor, painter and fine artist from Kansas City, Missouri. Make sure to check out her Etsy shop and her artist website as well!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?

My name is Rachel Gregor and I’m a fine artist living and working in Kansas City, Missouri.  I grew up about 30 minutes west of Minneapolis, Minnesota where my parents own and operate their own retail greenhouse and nursery.  My mom was a freelance illustrator and graphic designer before getting involved with the greenhouse with my dad and grandfather, so that’s where a lot of my interest in art came from.  I remember as a child while she worked at her seeding bench she would place me at a table nearby with blank pieces of paper and crayons.  I was always drawing at a young age and she rarely bought me coloring books, so I had to invent scenes and stories to draw.  That’s how it always was throughout grade school, I was the kid with the sketchbook drawing Pokemon and trying to sell the drawings for 25 cents.  Eventually that led me to applying to an arts high school in Minnesota called Perpich Center For the Arts Education, I always knew I wanted to be an “artist” but that’s when I started to learn what that meant and then it became real.  I then went on to receive my BFA in painting from the Kansas City Art Institute, gained a lot of great mentorships, and now here I am.

What are you inspired by? What are the stories behind some of your portrait paintings?

A lot of my work is inspired by nostalgia.  When I was in college my grandparents started the process of moving out of their home and into a nursing home, and I started to become really homesick for their old house.  Even if the setting in a portrait is vague, I’m usually thinking back to their house and trying to get the idea or sensation of what it was like there.  I’m a huge fan of mid century patterns and household kitsch so oddly enough just surfing Etsy for weird ceramic knick knacks and table cloths gets me excited for painting.   In my larger compositions I usually try to hide away objects that I remember from my childhood.  I want my portraits to feel very still and mundane, but underneath the cheer and kitsch there is some darkness.   Even if they’re surrounded by flowers and cute prints, my figures are typically alone and isolated.

What does the process look like for creating your portrait paintings? What are some of your favorite paint, paintbrush, and canvas brands?

I like to get pretty nerdy over my material process, but I think to be a painter you have to be very familiar with your medium.  When I’m doing a larger piece I work on stretched linen, typically a finer weave, always raw and never pre-primed.  I stretch and size my linen myself with rabbit skin glue, and once it’s prepped with an oil ground and has had time to cure, I can get to work.  I use rounds and filberts for my brushes, typically hogs hair, from various brands, it doesn’t really matter too much which brand as long as the brushes are the size I want and bristles aren’t shedding.  Rarely do I need fine sable brushes but I sometimes use these when working on really slick surfaces and for details, like with my still lives.  For my figurative work I like to work in a really direct method, wet into wet, and then switch to more indirect methods and using a dry brush.  Lately I’ve been really enjoying doing a grisaille, which is painting with a single pigment like burnt sienna or an umber, and white, letting that dry, and then doing layers of scumbling on top of that, which is essentially glazing but with little to no added oil medium.

When in comes to smaller pieces or studies, I really enjoy painting on toned paper prepared with acrylic gesso and ground pumice stone.   I prepare this myself but ColourFix makes great toning gessos with grit in them and ready to use pre-toned paper.   The nice thing about prepping it yourself is you can tint the paper tone to any color you like and because I’m using acrylic, the paper is sealed so I can use the surface for dry media, wet, or oil.  The pumice stone adds a really nice grip as well, so it has a nice tooth for both pastels and for painting, the brush can grab the surface and it doesn’t feel like you’re just smearing paint.  I also like to keep a roll of Grafix’s Dura-lar acrylic film around for the same reason, if I want to do a quick, small painting or study I simply cut a piece from the roll and no prep work is required.  One side of the film is foggy and has a bit of a grip, it’s not totally smooth, so again your brush has something to grab to and it doesn’t feel like you’re just smearing paint.

As far as specifics go with mediums and brands, I like M. Graham & Co. walnut oil for a painting medium and walnut alkyd if I’m working with dark earth tones.  Walnut oil has a slower dry time than linseed and is clearer and a bit more glossy.  Alkyds will start to form a skin within a few hours so be ready! I only use alkyds in the final layers.  If you want your paint to have that varnished look, sun dry your walnut oil by placing it in a shallow bowl and let it sit out for a few days.  It will become thick like honey and give your paints a beautiful gloss, much like an alkyd but I find it’s a bit more forgiving and workable.  I don’t like relying on varnish to give my paintings that final polish, it can become a crutch.  If a painting is built up with the proper mediums, it shouldn’t need an immediate coat of varnish as soon as it’s dried.

At this moment I probably have around 10 or more different brands of paint tubes, from Old Holland, Michael Harding, Winsor & Newton, to store brands like Utrecht.  I’m not really loyal to any particular brand.  Brands specialize in different products and mediums and I think it can be foolish to swear by one brand for all of your mediums and pigments.  When I’m at the art store shopping for paint, I look at the individual pigment, let’s say burnt sienna.  I like my burnt sienna to be very hot and orange, which goes against what a lot of people say burnt sienna should be-that it should have purple undertones.  So I go through each brand and sample the paint on a piece of paper and look for one that has the right temperature and undertones that I like.  I also look for how much medium they add to the paint, if it’s separated, if it feels dry, ect.  Even if I have a go to brand for one type of pigment, I always check because there can be variances between the batches.  Look for what you want in your pigment, just because Winsor & Newton makes a beautiful hot burnt sienna doesn’t mean that their yellow ochre is any good, it might be too green or too orange for what you want in that specific color.  Also never judge a brand by it’s price tag, more expensive brands at the store like Old Holland might make some beautiful tubed paint, but that doesn’t mean that the formulas or the pigments are right for your specific purpose.  Of all things, I actually like the student grade Winton cadmium red light a lot.  They add a wax filler to the paint to extend it, and if you are aware that it’s there that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  I really like the added wax for painting flushed cheeks and ears.

Can you tell me about your Flowers from Home zine?

My zine, ‘Flowers from Home’ came about after my partner and I moved into our new house and I finally had the space to start gardening on my own.  I started thinking a lot about native plants and researching plants native to the midwest.  My studio work was consisting of a lot of still lifes based on Dutch Golden Age masters like Rachel Ruysch, and I started working on my own still life compositions based on dutch paintings but using native flowers.  Once I got a lot of sketches built up I decided to draw them out on a larger scale and reproduce them in a zine.


I decided to focus on native flowers from both Minnesota and Missouri since those are the two places I’ve so far considered ‘home’, so my native areas, and group the flowers based on blooming seasons or growing locations like prairies and woodlands.  It’s supposed to be semi-educational, since I did quite a bit of research going into the project I wanted the viewer to have to do some research as well.  Each drawing is accompanied by a list of all the flora featured, but it’s in alphabetical order by it’s scientific name, so if you want to identify a specific plant you’ll have to look up the names to try to ID it.

I like the idea of appropriating Dutch Still Life and using midwestern native flowers in place of the exotic and cultivated plants the Dutch loved.  Often times art scholars brush aside Dutch Still Life as a genre that’s purely aesthetic, but I find it extremely philosophical.  Many gardeners as well tend to ignore the possibility of using native plants because they aren’t showy enough or they think they can get weedy, without realizing that actually a lot of cultivars you find in nurseries are bred from US native wildflowers, or that there are many possibilities and ways to include native plants in your landscape along with cultivated plant species.  Both seem to be kind of mundane and humble in their own right, and I like the idea of combining them and using them to elevate each other.

Do you listen to music while you create? If so, what are some of your favorite music artists or bands?

While I’m working sometimes music can become too distracting and I find myself wasting time at the computer trying to find something or I realize I’ve been sitting there for several minutes just hitting the “skip” button.  If I’m listening to something, it has to be familiar so I can use it to fill the silence but I can also just ignore it, but I usually don’t mind silence, a lot of the time I prefer it.  If I need some sort of background noise though, I typically open up Pandora and put it on the Mirah station.  I also like Pinback, Death Cab for Cutie, and Wilco for working music.  A lot of the same indie music I’ve listened to since high school.  Very often though, I will listen to Brontë Sister novels via Librivox.  I’ve read them enough where I can tune in and out of listening, and I won’t ever get bored or frustrated and feel the need to skip the track.

 




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Delphine Leviste: Collage & Diorama Artist from Amboise, France

 

It is my pleasure to introduce Delphine Leviste from Amboise, France – collage & diorama artist from the Atan Mouala Etsy shop. The following interview contains both English and French translations.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? Pouvez-vous me parler de vous-même et de votre voyage avec l’art?  

As far as I can remember, I always drew. While I was a child I was rather reserved and shy, and this was my way to light. I remember that on each of the doors of my elementary school, the teacher had hung one of my “works”. Childhood is golden…something to continue to cherish  and especially not to forget for the rest of your life. No doubt this is why I naturally became a teacher. I work and attempt to convey my passion every day to youth 10-15 years old. Each of my activities feed each other, being an artist at home and a teacher
the rest of the time.

D’aussi loin que je puisse me souvenir, j’ai toujours dessiné. Alors que j’étais une enfant plutôt réservé et timide, c’était ma façon à moi de me mettre en lumière. Je me souviens que sur chacune des portes de classe de mon école primaire, les maîtresse avaient accroché une de mes “œuvres”. Pour moi, l’enfance représente l’age d’or…celui qu’il faut continuer à porter et surtout à ne pas oublier tout le reste de sa vie. Sans doute est ce pour cela que tout naturellement je suis devenue enseignante. Je travaille et essaie de transmettre chaque jours ma passion à des jeunes entre 10 et 15 ans. Chacune de mes activité nourrissant l’autre, plasticienne à la maison, enseignante le reste du temps.


Where do you get inspiration for your art, in particular your art boxes? Où obtenez-vous de l’inspiration pour votre art, en particulier les boîtes d’art?  

I arrived at drawing through observation of by studying the natural world. My sources of inspiration are often from nature and cabinets of curiosities. I’m constantly producing work on large format canvases…this was a challenge for me being a small woman! And then when I became a mother, we had to find another way to work for lack of time and space! As I tired of pencil drawing, I began to create dioramas, which allowed me to go smoothly to creating a larger volume of work. I currently have a collection of 100 small boxes (but I’ll probably not stop here!). I found the idea of a new diorama from my collections of “little things” that accumulate at the bottom of my drawers, and I’ve noticed that the link with childhood is more present in the latest boxes I’ve created. My starting point can also be an old photograph. In that case I then feel very invested in giving new life to the forgotten faces in the photo.

Je pense être arrivée au dessin à travers le dessin d’observation de mes leçons de sciences naturelles. Aussi mes sources d’inspiration ne sont jamais très éloignées de la nature et des cabinets de curiosités.
Pendant longtemps j’ai produis des toiles de grand format…c’était comme un challenge pour moi qui suis une toute petite bonne femme! Et puis lorsque je suis devenue mère, il m’a fallu trouver une autre façon de travailler afin de composer avec le manque de temps et de place aussi! De coup de crayon en coup de crayon, j’en suis venue à créer des dioramas, ce qui m’a permis de passer en douceur à la mise en volume. Je me suis fixée comme objectif de constituer une collection de 100 petites boîtes (mais je m’arrêterai sans doute pas là!). Je trouve l’idée d’un nouveau diorama dans mes collections de “petits riens” de “pas grand chose” que j’accumule au fond de mes tiroirs…je remarque que le lien avec l’enfance est de plus en plus présent dans mes dernières boîtes. Mon point de départ peut être une photographie ancienne. Je me sens alors comme investit de la mission de donner une nouvelle vie à ses visages oubliés.


How is life in Amboise, France? Do you enjoy selling on Etsy? Comment se passe la vie à Amboise, en France. Aimes-tu vendre sur Etsy? 

I just moved to Amboise this summer, which is in the center of the France: this is a big change in life for me my husband and two kids! (before we lived just north of the France). Amboise is a beautiful city that is part of a UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscape. It is also the city of François 1st and Leonardo (his tomb is here in the castle of Amboise). This life change has slowed down my artistic activities in recent months, but I have just finished installing my new studio – photos on my blog – and I cannot wait to get back to it.

Etsy was a revelation for me. I can create without stress and at my own pace,and I have fun seeing my dioramas go to the four corners of the world. It is a possibility that I would have never been if forced to use the classic exposure systems. It was also an opportunity for me to gain regular clients. I also spend a lot of time browsing on there (and sometimes buying). I’ve found so many varied, inspiring and high quality creations.

Je viens d’emménager à Amboise, au centre de la France, cet été: C’est un grand changement de vie pour moi mon mari et mes deux enfants! (avant nous habitions tout au nord de la France). Amboise est une magnifique ville, classée au patrimoine mondial à l’Unesco.C’est aussi la ville de François 1er et de Léonard de Vinci (son tombeau est ici, dans l’enceinte du chateau d’Amboise). Du coup ce changement de vie à quelque peu ralenti mes activités artistiques ces derniers mois, mais je viens tout juste de finir d’installer mon nouvel atelier –des photos sur mon blog– et j’ai hâte de pouvoir m’y remettre.

Etsy a été pour moi une vraie révélation. Je peux créer sans stress et à mon rythme, et ,je m’amuse de voir mes dioramas partir au quatre coin du monde. Possibilité qui m’aurait jamais été offerte si par le systèmes d’exposition plus classique.Ce fût aussi pour moi l’occasion de faire des rencontres, avec des clientes régulières. Je passe aussi beaucoup de temps à m’y promener (et parfois à acheter). Je trouve qu’il y a des créations très variées, inspirantes et de très bonne qualité.

What kind of music do you like to listen to while you create? Quel type de musique aimez-vous écouter pendant que vous créez?   

I have very eclectic taste in music. When that I create I need music that moves, often something like rock, but sometimes Bjork…the atmosphere has to be playful!

J’ai des goûts musicaux très hétéroclites.Lorsque que je créer il me faut de la musique qui bouge, souvent du Rock mais aussi parfois du Bjork..il faut que l’atmosphère soit enjouée! 

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Pretty Little Thieves: Artist Interview with Nancy Mungcal

Today we welcome Nancy Mungcal from the Pretty Little Thieves Etsy shop! You can find Nancy on Etsy, Instagram, and her artist website prettylittlethieves.com.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?
Art making and creative work have always been a part of my life. Several years ago, I took a leap of faith and decided to pursue art full time. On most days, I spend the morning writing while painting and drawing take up my afternoons and well into the night. Depending on my deadlines, my work schedule can vary.
Besides art, I have a strong love for books, especially poetry.  I live in California.

   

What’s the story behind your sad girl and cat paintings? Where do you get your inspiration?
During a show, someone came up to me and said “even your animals are sad”. My work has always been about exploring recurring themes of connections and disconnections as well as duality, loss, heartache, sadness, and uncertainty.
I am incredibly fortunate to have people in my life who constantly inspire me.  I also believe it’s important to maintain an art practice and to make new work, that inspiration comes from doing that work. Poetry, art, music, and road trips are also inspiring.

What kind of music do you like to listen to while you create?
This changes often but usually Nick Cave, Mazzy Star, and lately, Sparklehorse.

How has selling been going on Etsy?
I’ve been selling on Etsy since its earlier days. I’m grateful to the platform for giving me the opportunity to show and sell my work.
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The Everything Guide to Selling Arts & Crafts Online

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The Vibrant Paintings of Melbourne Based Artist Christine of Bellablackbird

I’m excited to introduce Christine from the Bellablackbird Etsy shop. Christine is based in Melbourne, Australia. You can follow her blog at bellablackbird.blogspot.com.au, as well as her Instagram and Pinterest.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? What is life like in Melbourne, Australia?

I originally came from England where I worked with children under five. In the early nineties, my family and I made a life changing decision to emigrate to Australia. I always had a strong interest in art so began to study both visual art and illustration full-time. Digital media was amazing to learn as it is so versatile, combining textures, painting and Photoshop effects and brushes to make illustrations is so creative and flexible.



Where do you draw your inspiration and vibrant color schemes from?

Painting is another part of who I am. I’m inspired by nature and the vibrant landscapes and the intense colour of Australia. I’m influenced by visual aspects but I usually start a painting without a defined composition and keep layering until I’m happy, my paintings are often very abstract in style.



What materials and mediums do you enjoy working with? Do you have any specific brands that you can tout?

I paint with acrylic paint and really love the Ampersand boards as a surface. I recently returned to creating softer work with watercolour on paper which is fun to do, using Arches Cotton Rag 300gsm thickness and Holbein paints.

We live in a small coastal town and have a large garden full of native birds, which I often paint in watercolour. It’s very peaceful but different to Melbourne which has a vibrant arts community. I enjoy visiting the designer’s craft markets in the city and buy the handmade jewellery, ceramics and bags.



Do you have any favorite music that you like to listen to while you create? 

I do love to listen to music while working and my tastes change all the time. My favourite musicians at the moment are David Bowie, Coldplay and Florence and the Machine. Being a child of the sixties I also love Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen.


Are you working on any new and exciting projects, or have any outstanding artistic or business goals for the near future? 

I don’t have large goals but I’m focused on constantly adding new work to my Etsy shop. I’m also learning how to block print and have a couple of projects in mind. My social media always needs lots of work and I’m thinking of starting a new website.

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Meet Marleen Kleiberg: Painter from The Netherlands

I’m happy to introduce Marleen Kleiberg from the Marleen Art Etsy shop! You can follow her on Etsy, Instagram, and Facebook to stay updated on her work.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? 

I live in a village in The Netherlands with my husband and 5 kids.
A long as I can remember I’ve loved doing creative things like cross stitching, sewing, drawing and painting. After high school I started my career as a nurse in the hospital, but I didn’t stop being creative.
When I had more kids I began to work less and started seriously as an artist.

Can you tell me a little bit about where you gain inspiration? 

I have learned a lot from books and by visiting exhibitions.
I have tried to make progress by making small artworks. I had of many of them and when I heard about Etsy I immediately started a shop. That’s perfect for a mum I thought! My larger paintings are for sale on Saatchi Art. I am still surprised that I sell so much there. Every sale makes me happy.

I find inspiration in and around my home. I love to be in my garden and the forest near my house.  I like to paint kids with watercolor or larger in oil on canvas. Inspiration comes also from the internet, like Instagram or Pinterest. There are so many beautiful photos.

In every painting I try to give it a glance. I think that’s in every painting I make. I do that with a dark/light contrast but most with a color contrast. I never ever use pure black or brown in my paintings, I mix them with primary colors.

My studio is in the basement of our house. It’s a nice space to work.

Are you working on any new and exciting projects, or have any outstanding artistic or business goals for the near future? 

I have done small canvases for a long time. But now I make large botanical paintings and I am busy with a beach series. It’s good to change sometimes to improve yourself and to find new techniques to use.


I am also making a website, which is not my favorite thing to do, but my goal is to go online on 1 September.

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Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob

It is my pleasure to introduce Ioana Iacob from Bucharest, Romania who creates small paintings on local reclaimed wood roof tiles. Her Etsy shop is filled with colorful paintings that are perfect for small spaces.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? 

I have been dreaming of this all my life. Having grown up in a family where almost everybody was drawing and painting, art and colors have fascinated me since I was a little kid. Both my grandfathers painted and I loved the smell and feel of the painting studio. However, I always believed I was not good enough. Fast forward many years later, after finishing photography school and having had a few group exhibitions, I started believing in myself as an artist.

Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

As I got older, I also realized that life is too short and that we should do what we love. Painting came easy, after I discovered acrylic painting. I could not stop painting after discovering the little wooden tiles I use as support for my mini paintings. I came across them when refurbishing my parents house, in the mountains. What are they? They are actually pieces of wood used for roofing houses, the traditional way, in some areas of Romania. They are hand carved by local craftsmen and nailed like pieces of puzzles to make a perfect cover for any house.

Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

What is life like in Bucharest, Romania? Do you have any favorite spots you can recommend visitors?

Life in Bucharest is great. So is Romania. Do come to see for yourselves! I have lived in the city all my life, but rural life and Romanian traditions and country lifestyle have always attracted me. You can catch a glimpse of these by visiting Bucharest Village and Romanian Peasant Museums. There you can also see houses that have roofs tiled with small wooden tiles, like the ones I use for painting.

Where do you draw your inspiration and vibrant color schemes from? Why the use of wood?

I like living a simple life, enjoy spending time with my family. They and my friends are my main inspiration.

I also love the bright colors that bring life to the wood, make it more animated. Each small painted wooden tile can sparkle up any room.

 Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of ArtInterview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

Do you have any favorite music that you like to listen to while you create?

The laughter of my three children is music to my ears and the one I listen to every time I paint. In the rare moments they are asleep, I like to listen to classical music or turn on the radio.

Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

Are you working on any new and exciting projects, or have any outstanding artistic or business goals for the near future? 

Plans for the future? I have read that you become a real artist after you have painted 1000 pictures. I have yet to reach that number and call myself a true artist :). I also dream of my own studio with a garden, where I can paint under the sun.

Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

You can like and follow Ioana on Facebook to stay updated on her latest tile paintings!

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10 Fun DIY Art Kits

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

These 10 beginner DIY art kits are so inspiring, as well as affordable! Start with a kit to learn some basic embroidery, origami, painting, etc, and in the end you’ll also have something fun to display on your wall or shelf.

The first kit comes from The Wild Woods on Etsy – learn how to carve your own stamps with this kit, which contains all the carving tools and blades that you’ll need, as well as carving blocks and ink!

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

This DIY printable bird garland comes as an instant download from the Printspiring Etsy shop. You can see a video of this garland here. After downloading, you can print each bird yourself and follow the instructions to make the garland.

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

The Wildflower Art Studio sells beautiful starter kits, including this DIY watercolor kit. This kit includes beginner tutorials on beginner watercolor painting techniques and projects, along with all the brushes, paints, and paper needed.

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

This pop-up weaving loom from Hawthorn Handmade comes with everything needed to make your own woven wall hangings. Their shop specializes in craft kits for beginners.

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

Learn how to bind your own books with this bookbinding kit from Clever Hands.

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

This DIY Leaf and Flower Press Kit is handmade in the US  with cherry and maple wood, and details are included on how to collect your leaves, press and mount them.

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

Wooden Deckle sells a beautiful DIY paper making kit to help you make usable artistic paper.

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

This DIY string art kit from ARTERNO contains everything needed for making fun string art designs.

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

This nature inspired embroidery kit sold by the Jenny Blair Kits shop is perfect for beginner embroiderers.

10 Fun DIY Art Kits

This DIY zentangle painting kit from Mayhem Here comes with a printed giraffe on cotton canvas mounted to a custom piece of wood, resulting in a fished piece of art once painted.


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Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

It is my pleasure to introduce Etsy artist Jessie Cunningham from Ontario, Canada! Jessie’s shop, Past Your Porch Light, is a charming place where “grizzlies wander and owls take wing.” We both hope you enjoy this artist interview and can give Jessie’s shop a look-see!

Each creature you sculpt seems to come from a dreamland! Where do you get the ideas for your soft sculpted creatures?

That kind of dreamy quality is something I really value, in art and in life, and I’m so pleased that it comes across. For the most part my inspiration comes from where you’d expect, nature and wildlife. I grew up in Canada with access to the woods behind our house and as a child I’d climb trees for hours exploring that world. I had notions of being a professional animal watcher or leaving home to make friends with orcas off the coast of British Columbia, and while I grew out of those somewhat unrealistic ideas (mostly) I’ve never lost my fascination with the animal kingdom. There’s a magical quality to those sort of unconquered areas of life that I can daydream about for hours, personalities or stories I can imagine creatures having, and more and more that’s where my creations find their beginning.

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

That dreamland and the details in our own natural world play the biggest parts – I can obsess over conveying the weight in a grizzly bears footstep, or capturing the posture of a badger pausing to listen to its surroundings before moving on. Other times even a song or scene in a film can spark an idea.

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Why did you decide to use this soft sculpting medium for these creatures and not another medium? How long does it take you to make one of your soft sculptures?

It’s been a slow process of discovery but the love and obsession was immediate once found. I’ve tried many kinds of art since I was young, I knew I wanted to create but not always what or how.  When I first dabbled with fabric I worked with faux fur- it’s great stuff but messy and can be difficult to maneuver, which is ultimately why I discovered felt as a medium.

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Wool felt sort of happened to me when I was dealing with some health issues that restricted me from using more labor intensive materials, it was something I could easily pile next to me on the couch on a bad day and sew by hand. During that time I watched a lot of nature documentaries, and one day was struck by the image of a polar bear. Their silhouette and posture is so distinctive, almost otherworldly, and I knew I wanted to somehow capture that, and the feeling it gave me, and make it into something tangible. That iconic shape became the focal point of that first soft sculpture project, and those are things I pay close attention to on every new undertaking. While I still integrate previous mediums into new works, wool felt has really taken root with me. It may change, it will definitely evolve, but for now I’m really enjoying finding those shapes and feelings in felt.

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

How did business on Etsy start and how has your experience been so far?

I found Etsy more out of necessity than because I had a plan. I posted something I’d made on another website and to my shock it became popular very quickly, people would message asking how to purchase and I needed to scramble to figure that out. The business aspect is the area I’ve struggled with the most – I didn’t go into this established as an artist, or even as the person I was going to be, it’s been something I’ve grown alongside of (sometimes clumsily, I changed my brand name a few times.)

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

I think a lot of artists get into this “JUST CREATE” mindset and maybe don’t put the effort they may have to into getting the art seen. For a long, long time that was a huge issue for me, but Etsy has taught me a lot. There’s a really resourceful community there rich with advice and opportunity, but I also think promoting off the website is very important too. Instagram has been my biggest help in that arena.

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Do you have any future plans for your business and do you plan on adding any new creature designs to the shop?

At any given time I have about 6 new creature designs in a prototype stage, with dozens more on paper and loping around my mind. As for future plans, they range from developing a better understanding of color combinations and design to something as ambitious as having a studio space. I’m still very much in my beginning stages so I’m mostly happy to continue to learn- but I also have some very cool collaborations coming up as well that I’m pretty excited about.

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Jessie also sells enamel pins in her shop along with her soft sculptures:

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

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Recommended Reading

Etsy Excellence: The Simple Guide to Creating a Thriving Etsy Business


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Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

I’m happy to introduce Anastasia from the Etsy shop Asilda Store. Anastasia’s shop is based in Playa del Rey, CA, and focuses on selling pins, patches, and stickers for photographers (especially film photographers!). Feel free to read my interview with her to get to know more about herself and her life selling on Etsy, and make sure to check out her shop!

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

The concept behind your shop and items is so focused and unique! Where did the idea  come from of starting a shop that sold patches, pins, and stickers for photographers? 

I got involved in a pin/patches project for a motorcycle company back in May of 2014. Then I did a trip on Route 66 and bought everything I could find along the way. I looked at all displays, all packaging, all patches and pins I could find. At that time I got the bug. After doing 6 tour patches for the motorcycle company, I got more into it and wanted to expand the lineup to more designs and more stores. That didn’t get any support, so I was sitting at home around Xmas time thinking I should just do something for myself. I knew film photographers including myself who are very passionate about the craft, so that was clearly a great starting point. I am currently selling products in 2 series, with the future plans for 2 more themes. It’s all coming up, but in a remote future. With 3 designs I launched the store and in an hour got an order for 5 items. Then more orders started to come in, and more… I think this is very much a skyrocketing business to be in right now.

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where your love for photography came from?

If you read my bio, it’s kind of a wild jungle :). Tennis player, entrepreneur, photographer, store owner, web designer, etc. I have many interests and if we’re talking about Asilda Store, it was never the main thing I always wanted to do. I see my career in photography as the focus. Just so happened that I also really like working on the business side too, and am involved with multiple companies on that end. I love doing reviews, I love working on new pins and patches…it’s just all part of a mix of who I am. I tend to mention just a few things when I meet new people because everything together becomes too much. But it feels comfortable to me to have so many interests. Asilda Store somehow combined all the things I learned from everywhere else and added up to become this awesome venture that I am very proud of.

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

What process do you go through to create and complete one of your patches or pins? They’re so eye-catching.

There is a lot of research and preparation involved. I start with general ideas and things I want to tell people through the phrases and designs. I look up tons of inspiration photos and pull everything I can to give to the designer. I usually work with 1-2. It’s been a challenge to find new designers to keep the volume going and stay true to how I want things to look. So there has been many times when I had to back away from working with some designers. I have a briefing document on the specifics of manufacturing of pins and patches with thread colors, guidelines on borders and coloring. Both pins and patches are pretty technical when it comes to making them, so I’m still learning what works best and what doesn’t. For a new person it’s not easy to imagine how a vector design will look as a product, so I try to train and help my designers as much as possible. I have one awesome guy who did most of what I have in store right now and he keeps getting better and better. Once the illustration is complete, which usually takes weeks before it’s looking exactly how I imagined it, I talk to the manufacturers and get the digital proof with recommended changes. After that I choose the materials and sizing and send all this off to production, which is another 3-4 weeks. It’s a long process…

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on EtsyInterview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

How has business been on Etsy? 

It’s picking up. I am doing much larger volume through the main website store (asildastore.com), but Etsy is a perfect place to capture the audience that’s craving for cool things like pins and patches. Etsy is for people who appreciate all the different crafts and that is why it’s a great place to reach many passionate enthusiasts for specific products, like mine.

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

Do you have any advice for the blooming creative seller?

Make and sell what you like. Also, enjoy the process of promoting your products. I’ve started a business before where I liked building the product, but not selling it and that whole things failed pretty quickly. You need to have a bit of an obsession :).

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

Make sure to visit Asilda Store on Etsy to get one of these awesome pins/patches/or stickers!  Anastasia also sells t-shirts.

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

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Recommended Reading

Etsy Excellence: The Simple Guide to Creating a Thriving Etsy Business


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