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Etsy Team Columbus Feature {ArtsiBitsi}

Author jannypie Category


Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your designs. How long have you been creating?

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Like most of us, I've been artsy-craftsy since an early age. I was that kid who was forever building and decorating the playhouse, and never playing in it. My mother remembers me, as a 4-year-old, drawing on her white leather armchair. She didn't appreciate this early venture into multi-media, but I remember that the look and feel of the dark blue ball-point on leather was AMAZING. I still kinda think so.

But, in 1979 computers found me, and I spent many years exploring what can be done with a pixel. Computer graphics was still a very young field then, and Pong was still the best video game around. I was there for the first Macintosh, and before that, for the first color screen. Technology has come a long way.

Over the years, art was always in the background. I painted, made my own jewelry, and later my own handbags. My family and friends liked the handmade presents I gave them, and they encouraged me to sell my things in stores. But I could never figure out how to insert myself into the business side of arts and crafts. Then, last summer I discovered Etsy and I realized that there was a way for me to see if my work was marketable.

Q: Where did the idea for your designs originate?

Wouldn't I like to know. I usually start with a idea for a certain shape or structure, and then I embellish it from there.

My Happy Monster backpack series started out as a sort of personal challenge to see if I could create a very simple purse pattern that used a minimum of materials and tools. I wanted it to be something that anyone with a beginner's level of sewing skill could pick up and make. So, no buttons, grommets, rings, snaps, or zippers. No interfacing or special fabrics either. What I came up with was my "sew-easy fashion backpack" pattern. I posted it on Instructables last year. http://www.instructables.com/id/Sew-Easy-Fashion-Backpack.

Then, from there, I started noodling around with different fabrics. And then appliques. You can see the evolution of my design here:

Q: What makes your items different from others?

Each monster is individually designed. Putting together their little faces is the best, most creative part of my process. During that time, the monsters and I form a self-reinforcing, reciprocating loop of artsy happiness. That way, when the monsters are transferred to their new people, they are ready to automatically generate a new loop of happiness, triggered by that first smile.

Q: Do you offer custom orders?

Absolutely. My monsters may bite, but I don't. Almost everything can be custom made in a different size, color or style. Monsters bags are being used by boys and girls, college students, moms and kids of all ages. The right of the people to keep and bear Monster Bags shall not be infringed.

Q: What are your most popular items?

The Monster Minis (for iPhones, cell phones, cameras, makeup, etc) are really convenient, and a good introduction to the pleasures of Monster ownership. They come in lots of fabrics and styles. I have a bunch in stock right now: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5957116&section_id=5894190

Q: What is your vision for your handmade business?
Well, it's not about making money for myself. I use all of my Paypal funds to make small business loans to women in developing countries. So far I've made twenty loans to women in Africa, South American and Asia. See details at http://www.kiva.org/lender/artsibitsi

But besides that, I really like getting views and hearts and nice feedback. I'm love that a mom and daughter in Beirut, and a college student in San Francisco, and best friends in Vancouver, are all carrying bags that I made. That sort of connection across culture and distance is breathtaking. It makes the world feel smaller, and it gives me hope that someday we might really be a united world.

Q: What has been the strangest/weirdest experience you've ever had when being inspired with a new item or new business venture?
The weirdest experience has been finding out that people think that the Monster Backpacks are for children. It honestly never occurred to me that people would buy them for their kids.

In my mind, a Monster Backpack is the kind of fun that only really cool adults can appreciate. I guess I didn't realize how sophisticated a five year old's tastes could be.

Q: Where else can your products be found?

Monsters have invaded two stores in Columbus, Ohio: "Open Door Art Studio" (Grandview and 3rd) and "Wholly Craft!" (3169 N High). Their websites are at www.opendoorartstudio.org and www.whollycraft.net.
You should try to visit them.

I also have an online store where you can buy prints, mugs, t-shirts and other items with my art on them.

Q: Are you a member of any organizations or have any affiliations?
I'm really happy that Etsy encourages teams. Being a part of an Etsy team has been a great way to get support and learn from others. I'm a member of two teams:
Etsy Team Columbus (http://etsyteamcolumbus.blogspot.com) and MonsterEtsy (http://monsteretsy.blogspot.com/)

Q: Do you have a website off etsy, a blog, myspace, face book, plurk, twitter, any other web site you would like to share?
I have a fan page on Facebook where all of my various feeds are consolidated. It's got links to my blog and flickr and calendar.
Plus I've posted some extra images and posters that you can download to print. You can check it out here. http://tinyurl.com/clm6os

If you don't have an account on Facebook (and why not? It's fun!), you can still find some pretty entertainment at these pages.

Fangs for reading!

Thank you for reading this awesome feature on Bits. Be sure to check out all her links.


Amy's The Painted House and More said...

Great feature! It's nice to know a little more about you. Love your work!

Hev-Vin Designs said...

Bits, you are making the world a better place, one monster at a time!

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