Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Spotlight On: Alisa of ArtbyAlisaSteady

I found Alisa how I find most of my interviewees: my Etsy teams.  Another member of Etsy Entrepreneurs and a talented illustrator and traditional artist, she jumped at the opportunity and I'm happy to have had the chance.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in a Hoosier in Indianapolis, IN. My family moved to Madison, WI shortly after I was born and we lived there until I was seven. Then we moved to a town north of Chicago, IL where I survived my formative years.  I always painted and drew pictures for birthday gifts and home decorations (especially around Halloween and Christmas time), then attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, IL, and am now trying to pursue art full time.

What's your medium and how did you get into it?
It all started with a desire to paint with something that squirted out of a tube. So happened to be a sale on watercolor pigment - in a tube. Then when I went to art school, my teachers who I admired painted in watercolor and I fell in love with the medium. I am also having a love affair with acrylics, too (which come in bigger tubes!).

What's your favorite thing you made and why?
My favorite thing I made was a poster size Ravinia poster for the 1997 season. There was a contest in all the Chicago art schools, and my poster won fourth place. I created it out of vinyl - but it has since been destroyed in a basement flood.

What is the one piece of art you wish you'd been the creator of and why?
Hm, that's a tough one. I would say the Sistine Chapel by Michaelangelo. I admire his discipline painting non-stop for four years, even by candle light, on his back. The sheer discipline and will to get it done is staggering.

If you had to give up the medium you work in now and take on another what would it be/why?
I would take on FIMO clay. It would be very cool to create art in 3-D using a whole differnt set of skills.

If you could have one piece of your work owned by one person living / dead, who would it be and why?  Sammy Davis, Jr. I love the Rat Pack era (early 60's when Vegas was untouchable), and I admire him as a performer and individual. In a different dimension, to think that he liked one of my pieces enough to purchase and hang in his home would send me over the moon.

An important piece of advice you've learned along the way. 
The most important thing I've learned is stick to it. Take advantage of Etsy's treasuries and create your own; become involved with like-minded teams; and buy Etsy. I believe in karma, and if you buy a treasure from another gifted artist, your beautiful art will be purchased in kind. And remember, great customer service is the key. Be certain that whatever little piece of art you created that is sent out the door is the best representation of who you are as an artist and business owner. 

One random thing you would like to add, that's not covered here.
Even if you're not business-minded (like me), go with your instincts. Mirror those artists you admire. And don't be afraid to seek guidance from your contacts. It's amazing what you will learn.

Hello, readers! I will be gone travelling this week to Florida, to help finish the planning of my upcoming wedding and so there will be no Treasury Tuesday or any other regular blog posts until at least Friday.  I am hoping I will have the time, while gone, to write the Friday Feature and post it when I return that evening (if not I'll try to do it on Saturday).   Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week, everyone!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Feature Friday: Social Network Media Blast!

Okay, I don't know who named "Social Network Media Blast" but it sounds to me like it should be pronounced the same was "Brawndo" is in the movie "Idiocracy."  In my head, I say it like I'm mocking a Mountain Dew commercial or a local cheesy car salesman.

However, it isn't a bad idea.  In my Etsy Entrepreneurs team, someone posted that we should all add one thing from our shops to a list on Thursday, and then, throughout the day on Friday, Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc. about everything else on the list.  Because if you have thirty other people putting your stuff out there, it's going to get noticed in new circles.  I have to admit, in spite of the silly name, it's a brilliant idea.

Since there are so many things on the list, I'm tweeting most of it, and some that I like I will be sharing from my Cursiveart FB page, but there are a few things I really LOVE on that list.  So, I'm sharing these here.

First is this mug from CocoMasonDesigns.  I really love the aqua blue.  It's the kind of mug you'd drink coffee out of only on a Saturday morning, when you're feeling really relaxed and at peace.  Also, keep an eye out for my interview with Carey of CMD, coming in a few weeks.

Next, there is this painting, from  RKArtStudio,  It's got a very dark mood and I love it.  It reminds me a bit of being a kid and exploring and everything seeming so giant.  I love the way the trees seem like they're starting to bend overhead.

This last one would just be plain useful.  I would wear this fun paisley apron by ChrissysCreation whenever I'm making prints.  It would probably be covered in ink in no time.  The downside is, while I would use the pockets, I would also forget I put things in them, and then spend twenty minutes searching my studio for something that is on my person.  But I would look cute doing it!

Okay, that's it for my Social Network Media Blast! for today.  I doubt I'll do it every Friday, partly because it's time-consuming and partly because I'm lazy.  However, it's a fun experiment in the meantime and I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.  

Have a great weekend and keep an eye out on Monday for my interview with a new artist!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bigger and Brighter: Magnolias

I've been toying around, for awhile, with the idea of reversing the negative space in my prints.  Basically, carving out the design, rather than carving out the area around the design, giving a nice rectangular bright, full print with a cool design the color of the paper underneath.

A few days ago, I asked for a critique in the forum of the team Etsy Entrepreneurs.  One of my fellow teammates, margopage, said my shop was great but gave a few suggestions.  One of them was more color. She suggested dying the paper I used, but I really prefer the ivory tone. However I got the gist, and it egged me on to go ahead and start my experiment.

I decided to do an entirely new design of magnolias.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Treasury Tuesday: Leavin' On a Jet Plane....

Something good has come out of my unemployment.  My fiance and I are planning to wed at his grandparents' house in Sarasota, Florida in a very small ceremony at the beginning of April.  There has been lots of hullaballoo and running about and phone calls being made back and forth as his mom and grandmother try to figure this out while hundreds of miles apart.

Well, a few days ago, I was at my Nommy's house (as I call my future mother-in-law or my 'Nother Mother) when his grandma called.  We jokingly suggested that perhaps I should fly to Florida to help figure things out since I have very little else to do with my free time, now that I've got no job.  She jumped right on the idea and offered to pay for my plane ticket if I'd like to come down.  I considered it for about a day and then said jumped on the idea as fast as my future grandmother had.  Now me and Nom will be flying to Florida together for a few short days next week.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Spotlight On: Karina of Crafts by Karina

I met Karina in the Unoffical Etsy Forums, looking for people to do blog trade-offs with (you may have read her interview of me here last week.  Then, I got to looking at her Etsy store and it is chock full of awesome geekery from Harry Potter to Halo, from Planet Express to Portal, not to mention lots of great family decor.  The cake may be a lie, but Karina isn't.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello, my name is Karina, and I'm twenty-three.  I've been married for almost six years and we have an adorable four-month old boy! He is our world!  I love the beach, camping, making different crafts and relaxing at home with my little family.  I love trying new things, so I'm always busy thinking of what's next!

What is your medium and how did you get into it?
I do a little bit of everything but my main focus, right now, is vinyl lettering.  I love playing with my computer/machine and creating new designs.  At first, I got into vinyl when I was making Christmas gifts for my family.   Then, I started working at a sign shop (where we made custom banners and vinyl lettering signs for local businesses) and I fell in love!  So I decided to open an Etsy shop and here I am now....

What is your favorite thing you've made and why?
I think, by far, my favorite has to be this onesie:

Not only is it funny, but it's so true! Lol.  (Get it here).

Side Note from Jessica:  I personally like this one here, and I bet all my Muggle friends would, too.

What is one thing you wish you'd been the creator of and why?  
This organic rattle.  I just think that is the best idea ever and I will, for sure, use it when my son starts teething!

If you had to give up the medium you work in now and take on another entirely, what would it be and why?
Sewing.  I think it would be so much fun to make and design my own clothes!

An important piece of advice you've learned along the  way.
My best advice would have to be: Don't vie up! Network! Advertise your shop on and off Etsy and make sure to give out great customer service to your customers!

One random thing you would like to add.
I love watermelons!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Feature Friday: The Light Box Experiment

I plan, on Fridays, to write an actual blog post about some aspect of my art-related life.  A real, actual post as opposed to a simple interview or a treasury or what-have-you.  This is today's post.  (And in the followig weeks, you'll no longer have this mini-explanation up here).  Anyway, you get the picture: here we go.

A few weeks ago, I finally realized that, while my pictures of my products on Etsy are good, they are not great.  They are pretty basic and not very exciting and anyone who is trying to successfully sell anything on Etsy knows it's all about the pictures.  You hear that one piece of advice over and over again.  So I started to think about how I could improve them.

First, I thought about props.  However, pretty much the only option for that, when selling mainly notecards (even if most of them can double as art) is a desk set-up.  Some pens, some paper in the background.  Boooring.  And, of course, I already have most of them photographed in frames on the wall and those are lovely enough, but I want something more eye-catching.  I considered briefly (since most of my prints are somehow botanical) the garden.  Sadly, it's February and my garden is a mess.  And dead.

Finally, I decided the way to go was to build a light box (also known as a light tent).

It was actually very, very easy.....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bloggity Blogs

So I'm featured in two blogs this week. One is the blog of Karina of Crafts By Karina, who I will be interviewing next week.  You can read the blog post here:

The other is the blog is the Printsy team, of which I am a member.  Printsy is a wonderful Etsy team for printmakers only that I thoroughly enjoy being a part of.  They interview a different member on a weekly basis and this past week it was me.  If you'd like to read that post, go here:

Thanks for putting up with my self-promotion! Have a lovely day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Spotlight On: Kim of K Ziegler Design

Kim of KZieglerDesign and I met in the Unofficial Etsy Forums shortly after Etsy got rid of most of their own forums.  I liked her store and her awesomely designed maps, , she likes to read fantasy novels, and she put up with answering my silly questions.   So, of course, I had to interview her.

Tell us a bit about yourself. 
Name's Kim.  I have a degree in graphic design, but I prefer to do hands-on art.  I LOVE paper and books and maps.

What's your medium and how did you get into it?
My medium is paper. I like the texture of it, love playing with it, binding it into books and covering it with ink (and hot chocolate).   I started my shop with just books, but expanded because I need variety, otherwise I get bored.

What's your favorite thing you've made and why?
My maps.  I can't explain how much I love maps, especially old ones. Here's one of them (which can be purchased here.

What is one piece of art you wish you had been the creator of and why?
This guy here  because it describes me exactly.  I'm always daydreaming, but I'm not a coffee drinker, otherwise I would have bought it a long time ago.

If you had to give up the medium you work in now and take on another, what would it be and why?
I'd switch from paper to fiber arts.  My fiber arts classes in college kept me sane, and I've been sewing for thirteen years.  I also do a lot of tailoring of clothes and make up patterns for myself.

An important piece of advice you've learned along the way (about Etsy, marketing, your art, whatever).
It's all about the photos.

One random thing you would like to add, that's not covered here.

Where can we find you?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

First Official Giveaway Wednesday

Starting today and continuing the tradition on every second Wednesday of every month (barring vacation, illness or unforeseen whatever), I will be doing a giveaway here on my blog. I'll try to make it something different every month.  This month we'll be starting with a set of four of my brand new Fiddlehead Fern cards (so new they aren't even in my Etsy store yet):

The rules are as follows:
1.  You must go to my Etsy store here, find something you love and post a link to it in the comments.
2.  You have until noon on Friday, February 11th.  
3.  You may not be a family member, soon-to-be-family member or close personal friend.  I'll just ignore your comment.  You may also not comment more than once.  Repeat comments will be deleted.
4.  After noon on Friday I will count up all the comments and use a random number generator to determing the winner, who will then be emailed, and once reached via email, will also be announced here on the blog.  
5.  In the event the winner has not been contacted in 48 hours, I will generate a new number and pick a new winner. If THAT person, doesn't respond, I'll presume the Universe wants me to keep the cards.

Let the commenting begin!

ADDENDUM:  Rule Number Three only applies to super-super-close friends. If I don't hang out with you on a weekly basis, rule three doesn't apply to you.  It's basically for people I would give free stuff to anyway.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Spotlight On: Nathan Bezner of Nightowl Pictures

Okay, this is the first of what will, hopefully, be a recurring Monday post.  Every week, I will interview one artist, fellow Etysian or pretty much anyone that will put up with answering my questions.  I figured I would start simple, with my fiance, who is a filmmaker/film editor/director and sole proprietor of Nightowl Pictures.  You can find his website here, which you should definitely go check out as soon as you're done reading this article.

Tell us a bit about yourself:
I was born in April, Anno Domini: 1981 (the second greatest year of the eighties for film, the first being 1986). My mom and dad, being grad-school kids, jumped me around the country every two years until we eventually ended up in Charlotte, NC. That's where I got my high-school education at a now nearly defunct Arts magnet, Northwest School of the Arts. Following the idea that art school is cool, I went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. After realizing that the school was not necessarily for me, I left, coming back to Charlotte where I screwed around at UNCC for two years. At this point, I was already getting work and so I left 16 credits shy of a diploma.

During my years of bumming around in Charlotte, I began experimenting with my video work, having already completed a number of short projects. I began cutting music videos using found footage and discovered my love of post-production. More recently, I've left the short-form music video world and moved back into short film work while dabbling in features. So long as I'm actually able to express myself as an artist, I'll be happy.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The World's Largest Gallery

One of the largest art galleries I know of spans four countries (the United States, Canada, Australia and Austria) and about thirty states and even the District of Columbia.  It is also the most affordable "gallery" I know of, at five dollars a pop for every piece of art, but the trick is you'll never know quite what you're getting until you've got it.

So what is this globe-spanning super-affordable gallery?  It's Art-o-mat.   Repurposed cigarette vending machines turned art vending machines, placed in galleries, museums (the Smithsonian Museum of American Art), hotels (the Chambers Art hotel), and even several in one casino (the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas).  There might even be one near you.

All these are the brain-child of one artist, Clark Whittington, a North Carolina native who, back in 1997 had a show about to open at a Winston-Salem cafe.  He put a bunch of his black-and-white photographs in the first remodeled machine and sold them for a dollar a piece.   The owner of cafe loved the machine so much she wanted it to stay and Clark set out to find other artists to help keep it filled.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Signs of Grief: Productive Insanity

I have been very productive with my art in the last week.  Anyone that follows my Etsy or my Facebook has seen me post link and link to block print after block print.  Yellow and brown bunny cards, purple tulips, berries in gold and crimson.  I've been posting and Facebooking and photographing.  My studio is an utter and complete mess.

See where I put my artist proofs/test prints?  I just cram them between a couple of blocks and the window, to be filed at some random point in the future. 

And I have been organizing my photographed cards by piling them on my futon.  Obviously, putting things away is not my strong suit.

However, productivity is a good thing, right?  Yes, it is, even in this situation.  Especially in this situation.

My boss, a huge gym rat, was talking this morning about how all the barriers he could not pass this week in weight-lifting, he has just blown through like no one's business.  And here I am putting out more cards than I have in a month, while also managing to photograph and get them up online in a matter of hours.  This is unheard of for me.

And for both of us, it's fueled by one thing: the fact that, in just a week now, the place we love and work will be closing.  I am actually glad that something positive has come out of this.  Perhaps I will, after all, be able to focus enough to turn art into something financially helpful, if I can keep this fire burning.  

I find it amazing how the human mind works, that it will take something horrible or sad or depressing and turn it in to something positive and beautiful.  It's actually really freakin' awesome.  Every day I am awed by the capacity for adaptation in our species. 

Also, I know what I'll be doing on my first day of unemployment: cleaning my studio.