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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Jessie also sells enamel pins in her shop along with her soft sculptures:
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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!
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.
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.
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…
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.
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 :).
Make sure to visit Asilda Store on Etsy to get one of these awesome pins/patches/or stickers! Anastasia also sells t-shirts.
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It is my pleasure to introduce Kat Lendacka, a printmaker from the UK. You can visit her shop at katlendacka.etsy.com!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with printmaking?
I am a printmaker and my favourite technique is lino cutting. I live in Northamptonshire, United Kingdom, with my family and a whippet called Spot. After studying Graphic Communications (Illustration) and working in the graphic design industry for some years, I gradually moved away from sitting at the computer all day to using my hands (although a bit of computer work still remains)!
I was born and grew up in Litomerice, a rather picturesque small town approximately 40 miles north of Prague in the Czech Republic. My first ever try at lino cutting was when I was about 13 years old with a retired art teacher and an academic painter, to whom I used to go for art lessons with several other youngsters. I wish I liked the man more! I might have done a lot more lino cutting! Next time I had a go was while a first year student of Graphic Communications (Illustration) degree at Northampton University. This time, I fell in love! Linocut images appeared in many of my student graphic projects as well as in the final major project.
It still took some years before it became my every day obsession due to a full time job, lack of space and then babies taking over my time and the house! In the last 3 years, lino cutting has taken over the dining room and conservatory which are essentially my make shift studio. It is also where I run very small workshops.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you use references for your work?
Inspiration for me is everywhere. While walking our dog, exploring the countryside with the children, day trips to old cities (Oxford being my favourite), visiting my old home town Litomerice which is adorned with the most beautiful old houses! Animals in the British countryside and some fabulous gardens (Coton Manor Gardens being my absolutely favourite place on Earth). There are also a few artists that I find mind blowing – Angie Lewin, Emily Sutton being a couple of them.
Your work is so detailed. What does the process look like for one of your multicolored animal prints?
In the last 2 years, I have moved away from only black and white (one layer) images to multi block lionocuts. I prefer this technique to reduction linocuts. Using various materials (Japanese Vinyl, soft lino and old flooring vinyls), I like to cut out shapes and play ‘jigsaw’! Usually, I stick to 2 – 3 colours.
How has business been these days? Are you working on any new and exciting projects?
What next? I am happy doing what I am doing, more images as they pop into my head. Grow my Etsy shop. Pluck up courage and try a couple of art fairs! Experiment with some more products. But most importantly, have fun (as my Uni teacher Ian Newsham used to say ‘if you are not enjoying it, you are doing it wrong!’).
Can you give me a little background on yourself and how you developed your unique style?
Hi, my name is Sally and I live in Brighton in the UK. I went to art school and took a degree in design and then a masters in ceramics in Cardiff, Wales. I was then awarded funding by the Welsh Arts Council to do a one year ceramics residency in a small town in Germany. I had already been doing a lot of drawing during my M.A. and had produced some kind of 3D assemblages with wood I picked up in the street and other items collaged together, and in Germany I continued with this, creating paintings of animals using some of the ceramics tools and techniques I was using on my pots too. I think working on wood is a little like decorating the surface of a pot, because its an absorbent hard surface that can be carved into or sanded back. I like that you can keep a design simple whilst still giving it depth in that way.
Why the use of reclaimed wood?
Partly I use reclaimed wood because I like the idea of turning old things into new and reusing something that already exists. From an ecological standpoint I think that’s a good thing to do. Also though I just really like the look of wood that has already had a life and looks a bit battered, so its also for the aesthetic.
My inspiration comes from animals, our two pets (a dog and a cat) but also from feelings and human emotion. I am really interested in facial expressions and what they do and don’t reveal and how human expressions do not always reflect our true feelings: animals and young babies don’t cover their sadness or anger with a smile or “put on” a confident face when they are nervous etc. That’s something that interests me.
I work as a facilitator on a great project at the Brighton Museum, which is about providing a space for marginalized artists – often people with a diagnosed mental health issue or learning disability to make art. This is a project that has been running now for several years and is very inclusive and person centered. People can pretty much create what they want there and I find that very positive and inspiring. For my own work, I honestly feel that every day that I can make art is pretty exciting – I feel like I have the best “job” in the world!
Have you worked on, or are you working on, any exciting projects?
Coming soon I think is a book that will feature one of my cat paintings. It will be written by Desmond Morris (a famous and respected sociologist and author in the UK and a painter himself). The book is called Cats in Art and is due out in September. I have also just finished taking part in an Open House exhibition with other artists at Bright Moon Studios in Brighton, which was a lovely experience.
What is life like as an artist in Brighton?
Life for an artist in Brighton is really good. Brighton has a large artist community and many galleries and events where you can show work and take part in open houses, craft fairs and networking opportunities. People here seem very supportive and interested in art and the city itself is close to London, with its major museums and galleries and also the countryside of the Sussex Downs and the wonderful seaside. Sussex has a long artistic history going back years and the Charleston House (home of Vanessa Bell) (@CharlestonTrust) and Virginia Woolf‘s house are nearby as well as the Ditchling Museum which showcases the work of significant local artists and craftspeople of the last century.
Thank you for reading and make sure to check out Mogg Shop on Etsy and get one of Sally’s reclaimed wood paintings!
I am pleased to introduce abstract artist Melissa Mary Jenkins, a 2016 Etsy Awards Finalist based in Erin, Canada. Please visit her shop at melissamaryjenkins.etsy.com. In the following interview she discusses the creative design process related to her abstract contemporary art paintings and her small business on Etsy.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and the development of your artistic style?
I was a high school teacher for several years before I began painting. I would say that I was always a creative person, from a musical and artistic family, but I didn’t begin painting till about 10 years ago. A good friend of mine and a very talented artist @kylahkussmannart began painting with me to help guide me through the loss of a pregnancy. I was immediately hooked on the magical feeling that arises from being the sole creative force behind creating a piece of art. I feel as though I progress daily in my artistic style but I struggle between the ease of creating abstract floral paintings and the freedom that abstract painting provides. I love interior design and how art can enhance and “complete” the look of a room.
Do you use any kind of reference for your abstract pieces?
I often try and picture my abstract art in a room in my home. The colours of blankets, pillows and plants in specific rooms will often inspire my paintings. I live in an old stone farm house surrounded by farm fields, a pond and ever-changing gardens which also influence my colour choices. We spend most of our summers up North on a lake, so my paintings often tend to take on the vibrant colours of the lake and trees in the summer months. Instagram also plays a huge role in providing inspiration for my paintings. I live with a chronic illness and often don’t venture out into the world as much as I would like to, so following artists, interior design feeds and travel photography on Instagram helps to spark my creative juices and be connected to a fabulous support network of artists.
Can you tell me a little bit about your mudcloth paintings and the process that goes into creating them?
My mudcloth paintings were sparked by the desire to provide a more affordable alternative to the typical (and gorgeous) mudcloth pillow or tapestry. I wanted to be able to incorporate the mudcloth trend in a unique way.
I was first attracted to mud cloth because it creates a touch of boho with handmade whispers of the clean geometric lines of a modern aesthetic. But when I started to research the process of creating this traditional Malian textile, I was drawn even more to the idea that each symbol creates a story that is meant to be interpreted and that it was believed that the mud cloth had the ability to absorb powerful negative experiences. As I create each piece, I think of my story that brought me to this artistic destination. I suffer from a chronic illness, but when I am able to create, I like the idea that the work of art can absorb my pain and dashed hopes and create a story of beauty.
Are you working on any new projects? How has your experience with Etsy and your buyers been?
I am currently working on a large floral commission and when I need a “break” I am creating mini abstracts inspired by all of my house plants and terra cotta planters mixed with my love of indigo blue and a pop of blush pink. I have been selling artwork on Etsy for about 5 years and all of my experiences with customers have been amazing. All of my commissions have been positive experiences and I am yet to experience a disgruntled customer. I was honoured to be a 2016 Etsy Awards Finalist, my work was featured in a collaboration by @houseandhomemag and @EtsyCA this spring, and I have been selected to be featured on @EtsyCA social media channels in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. Etsy has provided me with a platform to sell my artwork without having to leave my home (except to mail the artwork), which works for my energy level and family responsibilities.
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From Roks’ Gallery on Etsy
Weavings by Jujujust