Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This Week's Featured Member - Alison Spokes

 

Tell us about who you are and how you got started doing what you do. Did you gain formal training? Where? If not, how did you develop your art? My name is Alison Spokes and my artistic niche is painting fairies in digital media. I am completely self-taught.  My fascination with faeries began shortly after my first visit to Vancouver Island in 2002 when I purchased a deck of faerie oracle cards from a local bookstore.  My intentions, when I bought the cards, were for use rather than for the artwork, but the imagery in the cards became this rabbit hole into the Wonderland that is Faerie.  I have been collecting fairies and fantasy art ever since, which is where I get most of my inspiration.  I have always been able to draw well, but I never took it seriously as a career, let alone a hobby, until just a few years ago.  I had never considered using digital media until my sister started creating manga characters in Photoshop for her high-school art projects.  I saw some of the amazing things she could do, so I thought I might give it a try.  Unfortunately, I never got the feel for Photoshop.  I eventually found an art tutorial by fantasy artist, Nene Thomas that explained some techniques in Corel Painter.  That's when I discovered my medium!  I've been painting ever since.  

 • Tell us about your studio. Do you have a room or workshop especially dedicated to your art? Or is it the kitchen table or a corner in your child's playroom?  I wish I had a room solely dedicated to my art!  No.  I have a small room with a computer desk where I sit and do all my artwork.  I have to share the space with my partner, the gamer: he games while I paint.  


• Tell us about your processes. How do you work? Do you listen to music or need quiet? Is it sporadic or do you dedicate set hours to work?  I try to dedicate set hours to my painting.  My goal is 6 hours a week, but I probably only average 4 or 5.  I try to get in at least 30 mins a day of actual painting time with a few extra hours added on during the weekends.  I always listen to audio books while I paint.  My favorite stories are Young Adult fantasy novels.  Putting on headphones and hearing a story helps keep me focused.  I seem to get easily distracted otherwise.  

• What are the toughest challenges you find in keeping consistent hours?  What other challenges do you face in your work and what ways have you been able to address them (if you have)?   One of the biggest challenges I've faced is simply my choice of medium.  Trying to enter art shows as a digital artist is challenging.  Often, they have no category for digital art, so I don't qualify.  Most art shows require original pieces.  As a digital artist, my originals are bits and bites, which do not display well.  Prints are my only option.  Lastly, access to electricity is necessary if events require you to demonstrate your work; not all shows are able to provide that necessity.  It can be tough, but I try not to let it discourage me.  

When it comes to finding time, my biggest challenge is that I work part-time, and the rest of the week I am on call.  My schedule changes from week to week, and sometimes I have to drop what I am doing to go into work if I get the call.  Another distraction, I'll confess: I have a bit of an Internet addiction.  Since I am already on the computer when I am working on my art, it is so easy to stop and check emails or messages from my social networks.  At least I am easy to get in touch with!  I am always online!  

The Gardener - Fantasy Fine Art Print 

 

 • What types of materials do you use? A computer, Corel Painter software, and my Wacom tablet.  
• Where else do you sell your work?   At this moment, I have two retailers that sell my work: 
Lobelia's Lair
in Nanaimo and the Victoria Bug Zoo in Victoria.  Besides Etsy, I also sell my work from my own website as well as Zazzle.
I've also licensed my work to a couple of companies: Abracraftdabra Designs is a Canadian company that sells cross-stitch patterns of my work and Kat's Magical Patches sells my art on fabric patches.  Both of these companies also have Etsy Shops. 

 • Why do you think people should buy handmade?  I believe in buying local where ever you can for both economic and ecologic reasons.  I also believe that buying local and handmade items builds a strong sense of community.  I think people should get out there and know what skills and abilities lie in their own communities, be it local communities or online communities in some cases.  Supporting people in your community also fosters positive energy, and that can never be bad.  
 

• What goals do you have?   My long-term dream would be to be self-employed as an artist!  Isn't that every artists' dream?  My short-term goals, however, are to try out a few new events this year.  I'd like to complete my Enchanted Insects collection.  Right now I have 6 completed; I would like to finish 6 more before I call it done.  I've also started a new series called Moonlight Masquerade.  I'd like to get a couple pieces from that collection completed by the end of the year.  

 

• What are three items in your shop that you are particularly proud of?  

• Will you be at any art/craft fairs this year? Any other place you will be this year that you would like us to know about?
 
 Yes!  I will be at the Sidney SummerMarket every Thursday night starting in June.
The Market at Bastion Square every Sunday starting in May.
June 9-10, I will part of the Saanich Peninsula Art Studio Tour.
I will also be at VCON: Vancouver'sSci-Fi & Fantasy Convention this fall.

There are a few other events I plan on attending, but nothing has been made official yet.  You can check the events page on my website.
Follow me on Twitter
or Follow me on Facebook

I will post new events as they become official.  



I also have an online event going on right now.  I encourage everyone to drop by my blog and enter my giveaway for a chance to win $25 in merchandise from my store.
 
Alison Spokes
Ethereal Earth Fantasy Art

 

(Interview conducted and published by Micki Findlay - A Vancouver Island Etsy Team Leader.  Micki's shops on Etsy are A2Sea Creations and A2Sea Photography )

Friday, March 16, 2012

This Week's Featured Members - Michelle & Caron


 Tell us about who you are and how you got started doing what you do. Did you gain formal training? Where? If not, how did you develop your art?  We are Two Blooms Design Studio and are celebrating our tenth year.  We started our business by refusing to pay $15.00 for an imported bar of soap. As two sisters we had a background in the arts/education field so immersed ourselves in researching every detail needed to create superior products.  With formal training in art and graphics and with our strong work ethic we created and experimented until we had the best possible product.  One of us is a natural alchemist and the other excels in marketing and social media so it was a winning combination.  We have travelled extensively and work well together always percolating with new ideas.
 • Tell us about your studio. Do you have a room or workshop especially dedicated to your art? Or is it the kitchen table or a corner in your child's playroom? We are blessed to have the room to have a specific studio space dedicated to our handcrafted art and are always expanding our range.  Like everything else, we always want more room!  
• Tell us about your processes. How do you work? Do you listen to music or need quiet? Is it sporadic or do you dedicate set hours to work?  Because we’re sisters, we have our own style of working.  One likes to listen to music, the other needs silence.  We have work hours that we try to adhere to but when inspiration strikes we can go until late at night or through the weekend.  
• What are the toughest challenges you find in keeping consistent hours?  What other challenges do you face in your work and what ways have you been able to address them (if you have)?  It’s a discipline to be consistent in your production hours and we sometimes let the creative side take over and get lax, meaning we have been known to procrastinate before a showcase.  One of the biggest challenges is competition.  Seems like everyone is getting into soaping these days.  We’re in a small town but it is still glutted.  We are always keeping one step in front of our competitors which plays well with our creativity.
 
 • What types of materials do you use? Why?  We make EVERYTHING we sell, we don’t use pre-made bases at all.  Buying local is our priority and if it’s organic that’s a consideration.  We listened to our customers and brought out a vegan line of beauty products.   Our ingredients are as natural as possible and we’re very careful with preservatives.
We’re selling at numerous farmers markets through the season, check our blog for updates: 
http://www.twobloomsdesignstudio.blogspot.com 
or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TwoBlooms
  
• Why do you think people should buy handmade?  Who wouldn’t want to have an original, one of a kind item? Why buy mass produced?  I LOVE when I know the person who grows my veggies or knit my hat or made my soap.  It’s about relationships and making community.
 • What goals do you have?  Our goal is to be able to support ourselves and expand Two Blooms Design Studio.
 • What are three items in your shop that you are particularly proud of? Our Rose Soap is a favourite with our customers...
 


This year we are harvesting our own sea salts from the ocean and adding them to our wildly popular bath salts and scrubs.


Our lip balms have grown in popularity and this year our Chai Tea and Metro Lip Balms are winning fans!

Finally, our Hot Beverage cozies are becoming runaway best sellers because there’s no need to waste trees on plain brown sleeves and they make their own fashion statement.




 Above is a photo of our showcase at the Victoria Tea Festival.
This year we’ll be at 5 weekly markets and dozens of Christmas markets.  Some of the markets we are at this year are Moss Street Market: http://www.mossstreetmarket.com/
Oak Bay night market and the Sunday downtown market. Check our blog or Facebook for details.
Our Social Media Links:
  

(Interview conducted and published by Micki Findlay - A Vancouver Island Etsy Team Leader.  Micki's shops on Etsy are A2Sea Creations and A2Sea Photography )

Thursday, March 8, 2012

This Week's Featured Member - Chelsea Friedt


Tell us about who you are and how you got started doing what you do. Did
you gain formal training? Where? If not, how did you develop your art?
I love to sew. I have no formal training. My mom could kind of sew. My grandma could actually sew very well but lives about 20 hours away. So apart from home ec class I kind of taught myself to sew. I gained some help from youtube videos, blogs and here we are. I started making bibs for myself when my first little guy was 7 months old. I had so many garbage store bought bibs thoughtfully given to me as shower gifts and in all honesty I may as well have not used any bibs at all. They shrunk up weird in the wash and the plastic backed ones melted in the dryer. They were too small, too thin, and sometimes unattractive. I finally got fed up and realized I could make my own and be much happier with the results!

• Tell us about your studio. Do you have a room or workshop especially
dedicated to your art? Or is it the kitchen table or a corner in your child's
playroom?
My "studio" is half of my husband and my shared walk in closet :) I can fit a table in and a shelf for all my fabric and supplies. Its nice and cozy and quiet. I work a lot in the evenings since we have 3 little kids, it can be a little bit crazy during the day. So being on the same floor as them in case someone is crying is quite helpful.


 

• Tell us about your processes. How do you work? Do you listen to music or
need quiet? Is it sporadic or do you dedicate set hours to work?
I use a lot of my spare time to work. I often work in stages. One evening I will cut oodles of fabric, the next I will sew like a mad woman and then often I attach snaps while the kids are playing near me. To keep a little sanity I often watch tv shows on my laptop, while cutting fabric. A little gossip girl never hurt anybody ;)

• What are the toughest challenges you find in keeping consistent hours?
What other challenges do you face in your work and what ways have you
been able to address them (if you have)?
Having 3 children under 4 can make a person go bananas and consistency for them is always at the forefront of my mind. So there are definitely times when I struggle to keep consistency in my creative process. Some evenings are eaten up by needy children. Many people tell me I have my hands full. I prefer to think of them as "full of good things".

 

 • What types of materials do you use? Why?
I use a lot of quilting cotton, its thick and it is easy to find beautiful or cute fabric. My shop is geared towards moms, babes, and gifts for them, so cute or beautiful is pretty important. My favorite bibs are backed with terry cloth. It's absorbent and duals as a towel for cleaning up sticky faces, hands and trays when lunch time is over. Many people like chenille or minky backing for smaller bibs. So I make a smaller sized bib for babies 4mo - 1 year backed with those fabrics. It isn't as absorbent but it certainly is soft and very pretty.

• Why do you think people should buy handmade?
Some things are better handmade because a little more time and effort goes into the thought process of each individual item. In my situation I found that it is hard to find bibs that are made with the actual needs of babes involved. Most storebought bibs say something cute on them but that's about the distance of their functionality. I want something that someone has sat down and thought "this is not working, how can I make this better?"

• What goals do you have?
I would love to have 100 items in my shop by Christmas 2012. It would be a real dream to become busy enough to be doing this as a secondary income in our family but for now it's mostly a hobby, with a bit of extra spending money.

• What are three items in your shop that you are particularly proud of? (Include
their links)
www.etsy.com/listing/94196776/organic-toddler-bib-cars

www.etsy.com/listing/91424520/baby-girl-bib-minky-bib-orange-striped

www.etsy.com/listing/88950320/owl-baby-bib-minky-bib

www.etsy.com/listing/80345753/large-bib-red-hippo-baby-toddler-bib

 

 
• Will you be at any art/craft fairs this year? Any other place you will be that you
would like us to know about? (Include links to these places if possible.)
I am hoping to be a part of the Westshore Wonderland Craft Sale this year. I had seriously hoped to do a craft fair this past fall, but we had just had our sweet baby girl and it just wasn't do-able. I would also like to start in a local farmers market eventually.
www.earthlygoods.ca/westshore-wonderland-craft-fair.html

goldstreamstationmarket.ca/

Chelsea Friedt 


(Interview conducted and published by Micki Findlay - A Vancouver Island Etsy Team Leader.  Micki's shops on Etsy are A2Sea Creations and A2Sea Photography )