It’s my pleasure to introduce everyone to artist Sam Pletcher! You can check out Sam’s Etsy shop and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and check out her website!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?
Art is something that I’ve always done, even before I knew what I was doing was considered art. It sort of just pours of my ears, even when I’m not really paying attention, I’ll find myself sketching or creating some random rearrangement of the things around me. I tell people a lot of my practice comes from not being able to sit still, and that is one hundred percent a true fact. My embroidery work began out of a desire to make my mark onto clothing but to also give my hands something to do while relaxing, (which sounds a little backwards) like watching a movie or talking on speakerphone to my mom. And before embroidery, it was doodling, and before doodling it was friendship bracelets and before that, it was making lanyards at camp. (It is no shock that I have given many homemade gifts over the years.) So armed with all of this energy and love for making, I entered college where I studied art, and was taught the importance of segregating art and craft, which just generally confused me. A lot of what I create in my art is based in my knowledge of crafting, as I think is pretty common for most artists, particularly female artists. Craft is an accessible form of art, in my opinion, so it seems pointless to exclude it from the conversation.
What is life like in Portland, Oregon? Any favorite spots that get you inspired?
Portland is an awesome place to live for artists. The rainy times can make for some great introspective creative moments, especially in the winter because the rainy gray season does provide kind of a natural “hibernation” almost, where you can kind of hunker down and get really focused on your art. That may not sound super exciting but the best part about rain is that it literally makes Oregon so green. The trees, the grass, the flowers (the roses in particular) everything grows like crazy thanks to the rain. And once the winter is over, you can really see how beautiful this place is. Being born and raised in the Midwest, the most magical thing about living in Portland is that I can drive to the ocean in less than two hours. It’s magical, it’s healing and it’s very cold.
As far as in town, it’s so hard to pick a favorite place to get inspired because I find new exciting spots all of the time. The City of Portland has an amazing public art program, so there are murals and sculptures and interactive pieces of art all throughout the city, some of which are gigantic and hard to miss and others that are only three inches tall and only available to the most observant. Downtown Portland houses America’s seventh oldest art museum, the Portland Art Museum, which is filled with wonderful works and is always worth spending the afternoon in. I could keep going on about Portland, but I’ll stop myself there. It’s obviously an amazing place to live and I’m glad I’ve found it.
Can you tell me a little bit about your first solo show? What was the venue? How did it go?
My first solo show was super fun and definitely nontraditional as far as most art exhibitions. The venue was at an awesome vintage candy store here in Portland (Candy Babel on NE Alberta St), that features lots of different bright colors of candy in glass jars among cool unique vintage furniture pieces. And somewhat unsurprisingly my artwork fit in really well with the décor, since both are quirky and colorful. There was great feedback from friends and strangers on my art during the opening reception and throughout the entire month my show remained up. I can’t wait for more exhibitions, I definitely have plenty of ideas.
What are some of your go-to art products?
My favorite paint to use on fabric is Jacquard Fabric Paints, specifically:
Textile Color, a nice semi-opaque fabric paint
Lumiere, a pretty metallic sheened fabric paint that covers dark backgrounds
Neopaque, a fabric paint like the Textile Color, but goes on dark backgrounds
What is your like process for creating your hand-painted t-shirts?
Each shirt is totally unique, since I hand paint every one. Currently, I’m choosing to paint a one of a kind set of images on each shirt, which is time intensive but very rewarding. The way I approach creating the designs is very similar to doodling out a train of thought. I’ll pick out maybe four or five colors of paint and then I stand over the shirt and think. Starting the piece is always difficult, since you need to come up with that first image to paint. I don’t like to begin with a specific idea or theme or train of thought in my head, because it doesn’t feel as organic as when I let my brain roam freely in my associations of different objects, just thinking about and picking one at a time. It is such a small difference, I know, but I really enjoy stepping back once I finish a shirt and finding the common thread or small narrative I created through my painted doodles. I think someday I may paint shirts that are not all one of a kind, and maybe focus on one image on many shirts, but for now I am enjoying my slow process!
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It is my pleasure to feature artist Signe Gabriel on the blog this month! Signe is a Danish illustrator from Lund, Sweden. You can check out her Etsy shop, follower her on Instagram, and peruse her beautiful artist website to see some of her outstanding collaborations and projects. You can contact Signe for commissions by sending her an email: email@example.com.
Can you tell me a little bit about your journey with art? What inspires you, and what is life like in Sweden?
Like many other illustrators I was always drawing and painting as a child and just didn’t stop doing it as I grew older. However, no-one in my family are artists or even have their own business, so it took me some time to realize that the thing I wanted to do – which was, basically, drawing and painting all day – could actually be my job. I am from Denmark and started working from Copenhagen, but one year ago I moved across the bridge to Lund in southern Sweden where I live now. I live with my partner and a few friends in a really old house – all of Lund is really old, and I feel very inspired just living in a place like this. My imagination is always going, and I make up stories around the things I see, and this is really where most of my inspiration comes from, as well as old fairy tales and Scandinavian folklore. Before I moved here, I was already painting Swedish-ish nature and houses, so I think I was just meant to move here.
Lately I have started writing a little as well, putting words to all these stories I make up all the time. Really I think the picture book is an amazing medium. First of all, as an illustrator it is fun to have to make a whole bunch of drawings that have to work together to tell a story, and second I think it has so many possibilities and directions to go in. Picture books can be both fun, poetic, or educational. I think this is the direction most of my work will be going in the future.
What have been some of your favorite children’s books and magazine projects?
I have been lucky enough to work with Taproot Magazine a few times, and I always really enjoy illustrating articles for them. They focus on craft, sustainable living and homesteading. I love working with them, I feel like their themes are a natural fit for me and the articles are always interesting.
For some reason, I have been doing quite a lot of food illustration, which is also always a fun challenge. We see pictures of food all the time, so imagining food in new ways is a fun challenge. I like making tiny chefs running around arranging huge plates of food.
For the last few months, me and my partner have been working together on a children’s book about depression. It has been a heavy subject to dive into, but also a really rewarding process, and it just feels so important, which is really motivating to me. We are almost done now, and hopefully we will find a publisher for it.
What have been some of your other favorite projects or commissions?
A really fun commission I had last summer was creating a map for a conference center in Malmö. They own a whole block of historic buildings in the city center, and needed a map for their clients to be able to find their way. All these houses are different, but they are all painted bright yellow, and in the summer there is pink flowers growing everywhere. I got to sit in the sun and drink coffee and sketch and look at people for a few weeks. It is commissions like that that make me feel like I have the most awesome job in the whole world.
After spending time on commissions it is always nice to be able to spend some time with my personal projects. Here I can really pour myself into it and express myself just the way I want. Often, these are the projects that turn into posters for my Etsy shop.
Do you have any advice for artists pursuing their work as a business? Has your artist website and Etsy shop had a positive impact on your business?
My main advice for artists that would like to turn their work into a business is to make a good website. This is your window to the world and your chance to tell your story, so put a lot of work into it. Also, something I force myself to consider every once in a while, is whether or not the content on my website really shows only my best work. As artists we keep developing our skills, so sometimes we have to take down old favourites. It is better to show only a few, really great projects. As soon as you have a website running, send emails to all the people you can imagine working with!
Etsy has definitely had a positive impact on my business. It feels great sending a poster to the other side of the world to someone who for sure would never have heard about my work if they hadn’t found it on Etsy. In Scandinavia, not a lot of people now about it, but I have been able to direct people here to Etsy via my website.
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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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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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