This past Christmas I was looking on Etsy for something to get my mother for a stocking stuffer. What I found was a calendar designed by Lauren Alexander and it ended up being her favorite gift. Lauren does amazing things with watercolors. I make giant blobs of weak color with watercolors, so when I saw what Lauren does, and found out that it was all watercolors, I was fascinated. See what you think as you read this interview...
1. What is your shop name and what do you sell?
2. What long series of events led to you doing this?
I've always been a watercolor painter for as long as I can remember. In high school I was dubbed the "guru" of watercolor painting class and won some school awards. In college I decided to be a children's book illustrator so I got online and tried to figure it out. Along the way another designer friend of mine started her own Etsy shop and that was the first I heard of it. She used her first and last name as her shop name so I did too. She taught me A LOT about being an artist. Her name is Suzanne Clements.
3. Who taught you the particular skills you use in your work?
Before I met Suzanne, I pretty much learned everything by my own trial and error in countless nerdy nights home alone with my paint supplies. My high school art teacher taught me some really great painting techniques that I still use today like under painting, using a really good round brush, and using a large and messy palette.
4. How long have you been selling online?
I got my Etsy shop in May 2006. I didn't really list anything and when I did it was an embarrassment. My first sale was in October 2006 but my sales were really spotty until really late in 2007 when I became very serious about it. That was when I discovered ACEOs and how much I love them. It shocked me that anyone wanted to buy them.
5. What is your favorite thing about Etsy?
My favorite thing about Etsy has got to be meeting a lot of really wonderful artists. I really feel like part of a community. It is a kind of community that I don't think I've ever been a part of before; one where I can have a kind of call and response to my creative impulses. All those nights I spent with just me and my paintbrush - I never dreamed that I could have a shot at a national audience.
6. What is your favorite thing about what you sell?
Painting itself gives me a lot of joy. It is like play to me. I love finding interesting color combinations. I love seeing how my style changes, how my mood effects what I'm doing. It is like looking at myself in a mirror sometimes - almost a visual diary of what I've done over the last couple years.
7. What is your favorite item in your own shop and why?
I have a lot of favorites. Sweet Tree is a fav. It was the first tree that I did like that and I don't know where the idea came from. I always go back to that idea. People love the tree and I love that it has made people so happy.
8. How does your work differ from the work of other artists in your field?
I think my work stands out because when people see my paintings (especially in real life) they don't assume they are watercolor paintings. I think people have a preconceived idea about what watercolors are supposed to look like. I try to do things with watercolor that most people wouldn't. Always going for bold and adding a lot of pop is important to me.
9. What teams do you belong to and what do you like most about them?
I belong to Watercolor Works Etsy Team. I like that we are a group of people that all work with the same media but in a lot of different ways. I love watercolors because they are so versatile. I like seeing what other people do with them. [Also Design Style Guide]
10. What is the most fun thing you do to promote your shop?
Blogging has been really fun for me. I really feel like I do it for me more than for the good of my shop. It helps my shop a lot but more than anything it helps me understand myself and keep myself in check so I don't get too neurotic about what I'm doing - I love that I get to meet other people that take an interest in my work. Talking to others can keep me sane.
11. What are some of your favorite finds by other sellers on Etsy?
Wow - I have found sooo many artists to admire. Two of my favorites are AppleandEve, GypsyandTwink. They were two that caught my eye really early on. I just love the simplicity and warmth to their designs.
12. What do you do in your spare time?
Between teaching and painting I don't have much spare time but when I do I like to try to relax. Maybe watch a movie, go to my favorite sushi restaurant, see a band play, just escape.
13. Do you have anything else you would like to share?
I would just want to share that I'm truly thankful to be a part of the Etsy/online artist world! I just want to contribute one small painting at a time.
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If you like this blog entry you'll love my blog, jn3 Hand Crafted Woodworks. Check it out. I'll be glad you did.