Gary Heller is a fine art photographer. He is a member of Design Style Guide. I met him a while back and I've been dazzled by his work ever since. I actually saw his photographs before he joined DSG. Here's his interview and several examples of his work so you can see for yourselves what I'm talking about.
1. What is your shop name and what do you sell?
My shop's name is Gary Heller Photograph and I sell my fine art photography. I produce exhibition quality prints of many different size options as well as Gallery Wraps and Artist Cards. I also offer matting and mounting as well.
2. What long series of events led to you doing this?
Well, I was always interested in visual arts ever since I can remember. All forms of art, really. I played in a band for many years and we even did Star Search back in the 80's. That was the original "American Idol". Perhaps my mother being an artist kindled the spark in me. When I was a child, I would sit and watch her paint. I thought it was the most amazing thing to be able to take something from your imagination and bring it out onto a canvas for all to see. It was magical, and I was intrigued. I tried painting and drawing on and off throughout the years growing up, but I never felt it came naturally to me. I would grow very frustrated. One day, back in 2004 I suddenly thought that perhaps the camera would be a good medium for me. A good friend of the family gave me an old Canon AE-1 slr with some lenses and accessories. I loved it. It just felt like the right tool for me to express myself.
3. Who taught you the particular skills you use in your work?
I am totally self-taught. When I become interested in something, I become obsessed with it and find out everything there is to know. I started with the National Geographic Field photography handbook, which has a wealth of valuable real world information. I picked up photography magazines, engaged in photography web forums and critique forums, and currently am the moderator of the photo critique forum on Photographyreview.com. Critiquing and discussing photography with other photographers is a huge help in understanding what works and does not work in getting the viewer to see what you want them to see.
4. When did you start selling on Etsy?
I joined Etsy in July of 2008.
5. What is your favorite thing about Etsy?
I think Etsy is one really well arranged and thought out site. It just makes sense in how things are set up. I like that there are so many different ways to promote ones shop. Some are done by paying for showcase spots as well as cooperative print ads, and then there are the wonderful treasuries which can land you on the front page for a while and is free.
6. What is your favorite thing about what you sell?
Hmm, I think the favorite thing for me is just being able to expose my work and share it with others. Being seen and getting great feedback is very satisfying. I love the entire process as well. I absolutely enjoy what I do and do everything from the snap of the shutter to printing the image as well as matting and framing. I even stretch and mount my own gallery wraps. I just enjoy the whole process.
7. What is your favorite item in your own shop and why?
That's tough. I seem to have a new favorite photograph every so often. Sometimes a photograph may not be a favorite until I actually print it and watch it come out of the rollers. All of a sudden it's like "wow". Some images just print so well and can win me over in a second. I'm really fond of the gallery wraps. They lend to a three dimensional look and feel. Also, you don't have to fuss over framing , matting and glass etc. I'm really not crazy about putting glass in front of my photographs as the glare can ruin it. So, when I do frame my own works for myself or for exhibition, I use Museum glass which is almost completely without glare and reflection, but super expensive. I feel it's worth it. Some of my favorite subject matter are old barns and shacks. I have a winter series of work that I'm particularly fond of. "Portrait of an Old shack" and "Farm house" are probably in the top five of my favorites.
8. What teams do you belong to and what do you like most about them?
I joined POE (Photographers of Etsy) and DSG (Design Style Guide). I think the best part of being in a team is the support we give one another. I just recently joined DSG, and am quite impressed with the level of talent we have here. DSG is also a very supportive team with strong unity. I'm happy Kristina found me and invited me to join.
9. What is the most fun thing you do to promote your shop?
I hang garyhellerphotograph signs around my three cats and let them loose in galleries. Well, no I never did that. Hmm, I'm not sure I find it all that fun. . .promoting that is. I'm just not big on promoting and tooting my own horn. I might need an agent. . . I'm trying to get out there in the forums and also have been putting together treasuries which I never thought I would ever do, but actually find it quite cool now.
10. What are some of your favorite finds by other sellers on Etsy?
Ah, there are just too many that I have discovered and it would feel just not right naming but a few here. Well, I do own a couple of great mugs from Pat's Pottery, one of which I'm sipping coffee out of as I write. Brown Bunny by Iris has some of the most cool and stylish hats for women that I have seen. I've just about fallen in love with the mannequins she uses to model them because the hats look so good. . .Our very own DSG team is an incredible body of talent with a huge range of diversity and items. I am discovering new talent here everyday since having joined.
11. What do you do in your spare time?
I really don't have much spare time. I do have three wonderful cats, all rescues, and they can take up some time for sure. I have two children, Christina and Kyle. Christina is 21 and is a great girl. My son Kyle is 12 and is autistic. He absolutely loves animals, which is pretty much the reason for me having three cats and was never a cat person. . .I am now. I try to take him to the zoo and aquarium whenever we have the time. He really enjoys watching our cats and interacting with them. So you could say my children and our cats take up much of my spare time.
12. Do you have anything else you would like to share?
Whatever it is you decide to do, give it your all. Live it, breathe it, and obsess over it. Let your passion move you. . .
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