Our next interview is with Brett, of Van Fleet Street Design!
1.What is the name of your shop(s)?
Van Fleet Street Design (I was going to open a second shop called, “Bone Appetite” which would have contained my skeleton art, but decided not to at this time). I am currently managing my partner’s site WristWrapWorks, which contains watches, bracelets, and necklaces.
2.What kind of items do you sell?
Art…ACEO's, acrylic paintings, colored pencil drawings, collages, “paper prayers”, pastel paintings, prints you name it!
3. How long have you been engaged in your art/craft?
I’ve been selling on Etsy since August 15, 2007, but I have been showing and selling my work since 2000. I had my first watercolor lesson when I was 9 but never really stuck with it. I have gone for long periods of time not doing any art, but like a dog to a smelly rag, I keep coming back to it (but it is much more pleasant than that).
4. Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson?
Ahhh, this is a question I hadn’t been able to answer for quite some time and have only recently been becoming more comfortable with calling myself an artist. I consider myself a professional artist. I have always thought of myself as a hobbyist because I had a full time job/career and was doing my artwork on the side. I was told at a very early age that, “you can’t expect to make money selling art. I was told that you need a real job to be able to live.” I quit my job as a social worker in March of 2008 due to health reasons and took on a new career in art. It has been a huge task getting myself “out there” (some of you might think that that’s not a big leap for me…being out there! But that’s not the “out there” I’m talking about!)
5. What inspires you?
Color! I need color around me in order to get my creative juices going and it needs to be bright and bold! I am also inspired by other people’s work. If an art piece catches my eye and speaks to me, I could look at it forever and it will forever spark something inside of me. I usually run to paper or canvas and am able to get at least the sketch done. The inspiration is immediate and the response is immediate. If I’m not able to get it down on paper, there’s a good chance it will stay with me until I can, but with this menopausal brain, there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll forget it?
6. Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio?
As most of the members have already stated, there is no rhyme or reason for any day in my workspace, but I am on the computer first thing. When the muse strikes, I could just up and “poof!” be gone from the thread or chat, or email and become a slave to the canvas or paper! But if the muse has taken leave, I usually clean up (organize) my workspace, dust things off and wait for her return to start a new project.
In the summer, I work on projects, holler at the kids, make sure they’ve eaten throughout the day, answer a trillion questions and remind people that I am working, paint, make videos, go to the forums, answer the phone and the door, make sure the kids have done their chores, remind them I’m working, clean, do laundry, research things on the computer. But when they’re in school, yipeeeee! I exist at a much slower pace. Not much question answering or hollering (which the dog appreciates) and I can get things done without many interruptions…thank the universe for school!
7. What keeps you company while you are working on a project?
Music, our Golden Retriever is always by my side (KayDee or as I call her “Beanie” because she needs Beano), sometimes the TV, our 10 year old Ian when he’s either home from school or takes on the task of bugging me all during the summer, mostly I enjoy just silence.
8. What is your favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?
I hate to seem smug or arrogant, but I love sitting looking at my finished piece and feeling in awe of my creation. I think, “Me, I created that piece of art! How exciting!” And I spend a LOT of time looking and admiring it before and after I list it!
9. What is your least favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?
I was going to say listing, but there’s something that’s an even more “least favorite a task related to my art”… cleaning my paintbrushes, ugh, I hate it. I procrastinate and will sometimes let them sit for weeks without being cleaned after completing a piece. I look at the dirty brushes with dread and loathing, and then I get irritated with myself for not having cleaned them because I’m now on to the next art piece and have run out of clean brushes, and I look at those things sticking up out of that jar of gross water and I don’t want to do it but I know I have to because I can’t afford to go out and buy new ones……..…and THEN I clean them. I know, it’s a crazy process, but hey would you expect anything less than that from me? It’s a good thing I use a great brush cleaning soap that can make any brush like new. Maybe I should contact the company to be in an advertisement?
10. What are some of the venues you use to promote your shop/ware?(Do you blog?
(To which teams do you belong? Do you use other sites? Which ones? etc.)
Well of course Etsy (posting in the forums and listing/relisting),Etsy teams, my blog, Flickr, MySpace, Facebook, Classmates.com, IndiePublic, cafepress.com, my website, Ning, artscuttlebutt.com. artcardswanted.com, Scoutle.com, handing out business cards, solo shows, word of mouth.It never feels like it’s enough and is somewhat overwhelming.
11. Related to your craft, tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation you found yourself in.
Last month I received an email from a potential customer who told me that she had been waiting until she got paid to purchase one of my items. She had been looking at the piece, admiring it almost daily and couldn’t wait to get her paycheck and buy the piece. Well, when she attempted to buy it, someone had gotten there first…on the same day she tried to buy it. I felt so badly for her that I offered her 10% off of anything in my shop, but didn’t hear from her again.
12. Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t necessarily know about you by talking to you in the forums.
When I was 5 years old, I wound up in the hospital with a kidney infection that had been misdiagnosed by the family physician. I was in the hospital for a month and had a near death experience due to an out of control fever.
13. What’s your favorite book and why, favorite movie and why, favorite kind of music?
I like any book that is unusual or has an offbeat story. The book that comes to mind is “A Gracious Plenty” by Sheri Reynolds. It’s about a child who had been badly burned in an accident in the home. When she grows up, she becomes a loner and is the recipient of everyone’s pity. Eventually she learns that she can hear the voices of people buried in her father’s cemetery. She speaks to them and they tell her about their regrets, explanations and insights. It’s so well written and intriguing.
My favorite movie…that’s a difficult one. I’m torn between “Mirror Mask” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. Like books, these movies are about quirky people and their life situations. I especially love offbeat foreign films.
Oh favorite music…I like a lot of different musical genres such as classical, oldies, Native American, Asian, Cuban, Mexican, but my love is for JAZZ.
14. Would you care to share any 'words of wisdom' with other aspiring artists or crafters?
There is so much talent in the world today and it is so accessible to us, that putting a twist on what you do is of utmost importance. Find your niche and be unique. You’ll find people who string beads, make marks on paper or paint on a canvas, sew something together, but is what they’re doing going to catch someone’s eye enough for them to say, “Gee, that’s different! I have to have that!” ?? Don’t be afraid to stand out and offer something unusual to the world! Take a risk.
Please take some time and leave a comment or two, ask a question etc. She would love to hear from you!