Typewriters, Irons, and Artwork! Oh My!

I've been admiring Michele's work for AGES!!! I just look at her work longingly, wishing i could buy all of it!! (or at least any of it, and one day Michele i promise i will!) Buying things right now just aren't in the cards right now, so I'm just drool over her work. And you should too!! Not only is her work amazing, but she's super friendly. And inspiring to anyone who is just waiting for the day they would like to take their art to the next level and make it their full time job. So sit back, look at the pretty pictures and look at the stellar work before you.


*How long have you been crafting?

I have been making things and art for just about 8 years now, but ever since I can remember I have loved to create things. Art was always my favorite activity in school, and it's something that I have always been driven to do.

*Did you always craft in this genre?

I have always stayed pretty close to the fine arts. Both of my grandmothers tried to teach me how to crochet. They also tried to teach me how to sew and hook rugs, but I never really took to it. However, I did really love drawing and making watercolor paintings for people.


*Who or what inspires you?

I like to find inspiration in things that make up my everyday life. A favorite cup, a vintage typewriter, my favorite water towers,certain flowers...these are the things that surround me. I have always liked the idea of art as a journal, or a story, and that is what I am trying to achieve with my work right now.

*What defining moment made you decide to turn your hobby into a business?

I don't know if there was a defining moment, but there was certainly a defining time. I recently moved to Pontiac, Michigan while my boyfriend attends graduate school at Cranbrook. I had been looking for a job for almost two months. I must have turned in over 30 resumes, and had several interviews, and still I had nothing. I have almost 6 years of experience working as an assistant department manager for a couple of health food stores, and had actually had three different interviews for one here. However, they wanted to start me off as a cashier, and I had promised myself 2 years ago that I would never, ever, cashier again. Out of all the various jobs I have had, that is my least favorite...and I swore I would never do it again no matter how much I needed the work. So, when they offered that job to me I said no. I said that I would much rather keep looking for another opportunity, or work on making art my full time job...and here I am :)


*What changes were made to your regular schedule to make this go from a hobby to a business?

I didn't have to change a whole lot, because this is what I started doing full time. However, there are a few things that I had to learn to do to keep myself on track. I always make a to-do list. If this doesn't get done I feel like my head is spinning in circles. Also, I had to learn to take breaks. I would try to get everything done in one go, but things just don't work that way. I had to teach myself that it's ok to take breaks and stretch my legs every now and then.

* You have an amazing talent, with great product! What do you find is the best way to market yourself?

Well, I am still pretty new to this, but I have found that having a blog is a great way to promote yourself. It gives people a chance to see what I am working on and it gives them a little bit of a sneak peak. It also allows people to connect with me, as an artist. People can see where I am coming from through the writing in my blog. They can get to know me on more of a personal level, and I think that is really important when it comes to viewing art work, or even when making a decision to purchase a piece of work.

My blog address is http://www.how2drawacupofcoffee.blogspot.com just in case you'd like to check it out.


*What challenges have you found while taking your craft into the business world?

One of the biggest challenges is that there is a lot of competition in the art world. Sometimes it's all just a matter of being at the right place at the right time, or even knowing the right people. I am not much of an outgoing person. In fact I have had a really hard time talking to people, especially about my work. Unfortunately, this is something that is REALLY important when it comes to selling art and making all those right connections. But, I am working on it, and I think with the help of the internet I am building more and more confidence in talking to people and discussing my work.


*If someone from out of town were visitng you, what key places would you bring them to? (galleries, coffee shops, parks, museums, etc)

Well, the Detroit Institute of Art just finished their big remodel so I would definitely take them there. There is also a handful of great little boutiques and cool art related businesses in Royal Oak. One of them being the 323 Gallery on East Third in Royal Oak. Also in Royal Oak is an amazing Farmer's Market where you can literally buy a weeks worth of groceries for about $20-40 bucks. This includes breads, meats, cheeses, herbs...all from local farmers! It's really amazing and I shop there every Saturday :) I love promoting local arts and farmers, because I think it's SO important, especially here in Michigan, to support small business people, and the environment.


Head over to Michele's etsy, or her blog (where she posts on a daily basis, with pictures!). Enjoy!


Ohh...how i have a weakness for paper goodies. But, when they are handmade paper products? Well, now there's my kryptonite. Asa has a BRILLIANT shoppe called Inky Livie. She has a wonderful drawing style and can create cards in so many different genres.


How long have you been crafting?

I have been drawing all my life, and have always loved putting my hands to work on paper. The very first invites I made though, were for my best friend's 18th birthday-- if I remember right, I handmade about 50-60 invites, all individually (and painstakingly)handcut, handdrawn and handwritten! Needless to say, I loved it :)



Did you always craft in this genre?

Yes. I love paper. Although many, many times I find myself wishing I knew how to sew or knit or crochet.


Who or what inspires you?

You will see a lot of artist's bios say that everything that surrounds them inspires them, and cliche as it may sound, it's true. Once you are in this world of art and craft, you cannot help but look around you with an artist's or designer's eye. I am inspired by the various forms of art-- from architecture to music to fashion design , and at the same time, by the everyday things that surround me.



What challenges have you found while taking your craft into the business world?

I think that the biggest challenge, as with any parent, has been trying to keep a balance between my homelife and my work. I am a full-time mom first, a businesswoman second. It was critical for me to create a work schedule for myself that will not take away from my taking care of my children (Inow do all my work at night starting at 8pm-- my kids' bedtime). It is especially difficult when you are running a business from home, because it is so easy to switch into "work" mode by stepping into my studio, or sitting in fornt of my computer. I am getting better, though, at NOT working during the weekends that I am just home :) And I am lucky because I have had the support of my husband ever since I started my shop-- i.e., he puts the kids to bed as I start my "workday", or rather, "worknight".


Although, i do think Asa has gorgeous images of her work, these small sizes don't do her justice. Head over to her Etsy account to really see her beautiful work! :)

You Captured My Fruit.

For as long as i can remember, food art, in any genre, has always captivated me. Well, obviously, looking at the name i chose for my own business. Produce (fruit and vegetable) artwork really tickles my fancy though. So, it's very understood why i adore them so much. Tim Chumley has a keen eye and works in many genre's.


How long have you been crafting?

I've been a photographer most of my life, receiving my first camera when I was six. But my interest in photography took off in high school and stayed pretty even until about five years ago, when the quality/cost ratio of digital imaging became reasonable. I quit my day job (teaching in grad school) 18 months ago to practice photography full time. I've been producing my own prints for sale for about a year.



Did you always craft in this genre?

I've never "crafted" before.


Who or what inspires you?

In fine art photography I appreciate photos that tell a story or evoke an emotion, or that offer a unique perspective on something traditional. My fruit series is an example of a different perspective. It's not expected, and because of that it draws a lot of attention.


What challenges have you found while taking your craft into the business world?

The promotion process never stops. I have to constantly look for new opportunities and outlets for my prints. For example, I recently started selling large framed prints on Amazon.com. The other lesson I've learned is: compliments don't pay the bills. Everyone who sees my work "loves my work," and it's rewarding to hear. I never get tired of compliments. Some days that's what keeps me moving forward. But those remarks don't put kids through college.


Head over to Tim's etsy for more images, and make sure to head over to his website to see all the other amazing images he's taken.

Adorable Avocados

Abbie from Miss Avocado has adorable drawings of women. I really enjoy her style and unique layouts for her art! Although the image below is what 1st captivated me to message Abbie, i really really enjoy the cafe girl, and the angel man on the unicycle.


How long have you been crafting?

Growing up, my Mom kept a range of art supplies around: sequins, fabric, poster paints, construction paper, and more. I guess in light of this you could say crafting has always been a part of my life. I grew up making homemade gifts and sewing (although I have to admit I knit some outrageously over-sized sweaters as gifts when I was first learning).


Did you always craft in this genre?

For Etsy I've been producing collages and prints of my illustrations mostly. I do really enjoy working with textiles though and tend to knit and crochet a lot (easily mobile crafts are the best).



Who or what inspires you?

Old bookstores, good coffee, reading blogs, my nieces, going for walks, random trips to the library, design magazines, and new sketchbooks waiting to be filled up.


What challenges have you found while taking your craft into the business world?

I think a challenge for me is finding the balance between the creative, right-brained side and developing smart business practices (keeping records, research for instance).

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Check out Abbie's other prints at her Etsy site. :)

Not So Fishy Chairs.

I saw this painting below that Jill painted and thought it was brilliant!! Jill has a shoppe called J Dryer Art. [jdryerart.etsy.com] I love how she uses chairs in a lot of her artwork. I've always had a fasintation with drawing chairs as well. [although, her's are much nicer then my own] Her style is wonderful, and all of her work is really whimsical.


CRAFTING: I've always loved being artistic - and since about high school I knew I wanted to be an artist. But I got a degree in journalism instead (thinking there might be more career opportunities) and ultimately had a 15 year career in advertising sales. Looking back, I don't have regrets on the path I took since it paid my bills quite nicely and taught me a lot about the business world (basically laying the groundwork for having my own company). Now that I'm an artist full-time, my job is incredibly rewarding, I feel more balanced than ever and I look forward my work everyday.


GENRE: I've always enjoyed illustration and painting - so my medium hasn't changed much over the years. But the content varies from children's books and kid-related artwork...to corporate and commissioned pieces...to paintings that represent my own life statements.


INSPIRATION: I'm inspired by other people who are devoted to doing what they love. For instance, my friend Milton Mizenberg, a Chicago sculptor who has devoted his life to his art and to bettering the neighborhood that he lives in. It's a wonderful story of a man on the southside of Chicago who brought hope back to a neighborhood that people had given up on. As Milton will say, "he's a scrap man. He takes things that no one else sees value in and turns it into something beautiful".
There's also my friend Birger Juell who owns a high-end wood floor business in the Chicago Merchandise Mart. He's 91 and still goes to work everyday. He's lived an amazing life and always has wonderful stories to share - from coming to America from Norway on the boat when he was 17, Mackinaw Island sailing races, being a ski-jumper in the 1930's, etc. He is more excited about life than anyone I know and he lives everyday to the fullest. You really can't hang out with him for 10 minutes and not be inspired.


CHALLENGES: I think the biggest challenge is to find your niche in the marketplace and to figure out which things are working for you. For instance, I think it's important to have things at both high and low price points so you're always selling something. So for me - that means I sell prints on etsy at a lower price point and I supplement that income by selling original paintings and taking on commission projects. In general, I haven't figured out the perfect formula for making a strong living off my work just yet...but I feel like I'm getting closer to cracking the code everyday. It takes a lot of dedication and an open mind to run a small business. You have to be able to create without boundaries and still be willing to listen the realistic feedback that you get from buyers.


Most of all - I wish everyone luck on their artistic projects and would like to give a big thanks to those people who support handmade!


I just find Jill's work very joyful. I bet you'll agree! :) Head over to her Etsy Shoppe and let her know what you think! jdryerart.etsy.com

NOTE: Sorry, i'm at my family's house and thier PC won't let me link or spell check, i'll fix it when i go back home.

Crochet = Amor

I first came around this necklace months ago and have saved Maria's shoppe, Kjoo, in my favorites for some time now. When i 1st started to write about artists, she one of the few i already knew i would have to interview. Her style is amazing, and i love the colors and textures of her work. She does beautiful crochet pieces that is absolutely practical artwork to wear!


My name is Maria João Ribeiro I am Portuguese and I live in Palmela, a small beautiful mountain next to the capital, Lisbon.

How long have you been crafting?

I have been crafting all my life. Specially on my adolescence when I was always making modifications on my clothes and crafting some jewelry's and accessories for personal use. Crafting with the intention of making business of it, I started at about one year. More or less December 2006, after a few months thinking on what should I do for life.I was not happy at all with the professional offers regarding my formation area Graphic Design.



Did you always craft in this genre?

I am still exploring the materials I am crafting with. Since started this projected not so long ago, I am still learning new ways to use crochet and felt. And I am also introducing some new materials such as silver, plastic, glass and other fibers. My work is also very experimental so I am always seeking new ways to use shape and color.


Who or what inspires you?

I can get inspiration from everywhere. Can be a movie a book a website and illustration... What really inspires me is finding some unusual color combination. I am always seeking color combination and I have not many rules regarding color I just like to explore.


What challenges have you found while taking your craft into the business world?

I think the most difficult part of this is get your name out there. Be noticed takes time and effort. Anyway I have to say that I have been really lucky. I work many hours a day and I have been really lucky to have receive really pleasant invitations (like this interview) that get the word about my work out there. I have taken the option of making my business almost all an online commerce and I am really happy with the results so far. I just need to organize better my time to be able to answer all the invitations, have new items available in the shop and for other proposes.


Not only is her work wonderful, but many of her images are lovely as well. i LOVE the way she photographed the pins on the plate with the chop stix, so clever! :)